The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Ag

April 12, 2014

It’s time to dirty hands

ENID, Okla. — Spring is here. It’s time to get your hands back in the dirt and put into action all the wonderful (or some of the wonderful) ideas you’ve been having all winter.

The hummingbirds are back, or soon will be, so mix up some nectar for them.

Bees are venturing out to visit the new flowers. Keep a close watch on your garden. Often, helpful pest-destroying insects are out, getting ready to work for you, also. These, and the bees helpfully pollinating flowers, shouldn’t be discouraged by the undiscriminating spraying of insecticides.

Likewise, don’t spray flowering fruit trees while in bloom. Disease treatment can continue according to directions on the label. Cedar apple rust may show up in orange jelly galls on cedar trees, especially after a rain, so use a fungicide, if needed.

It’s time to control fire blight disease. One way to do this is to select disease-resistant varieties. Continue to spray disease-prone fruit and pine trees, on schedule. Powdery mildew disease can be controlled with early detection and treatment. Again, disease resistant varieties are a good idea.

Many bedding plants, annual flowers and summer flowering bulbs can be planted in mid-April, or as soon as the danger of frost has passed, which is sometimes tricky to predict. Wait to apply mulch until rains subside and soil temperatures warm up. Harden off new plants you have started inside by allowing them protection from sun and wind. Leave spring flowering bulbs, such as jonquil or daffodil greens, to grow as long as possible.

Late-April is a good time to establish warm-season grass lawns, from sprigs, plugs or sod. Mowing probably needs to be done. Bermuda-grass and Zoysia grass can be cut to 1 or 11⁄2 inches high. Buffalo-grass needs to be left longer, from 11⁄2 to 3 inches. You can pick up fact sheet HLA-6420, “Lawn Management in Oklahoma,” from the Garfield County Extension Office.

Spring dead spot disease becomes visible now. Fact sheet EPP-7665, “Spring Dead Spot of Bermuda-grass,” addresses this problem. Do not apply fungicides now.

You may be able to see grub damage in your lawn. Fact sheet EPP-7306, “Ornamental and Lawn Pest Control for Homeowners,” speaks on this.

It’s not too early to plan to conserve water in the landscape. Up to half of water applied at midday to lawns and gardens is wasted by evaporation and run off. The best time to water is early mornings or even evenings when the temperature is cooler and winds are calmer.

Allow the soil to dry out between watering (reasonably dry) to build stronger and deeper roots.

Keep a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around established trees, shrubs and plants. It holds soil moisture, controls weeds, reduces soil erosion and improves soil quality as it decomposes. Assuming you choose to use organic mulch, that is. Leave a 4-inch space around trunks of trees to prevent trunk rot.

Drought-resistant landscapes can be attractive and a good way to use less water. Consider using native plants that need less maintenance and water.

Above all, get outside and enjoy this magical time of the year.

Rathjen is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.

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