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Village of AsharokenThe small but powerful Village of Asharoken

"Garden Guidelines for Spring" by Joan G. Hauser          Spring 2009

Check Your Bulbs
Spring Arrives in Asharoken
Spring Arrives in Asharoken
When your spring bulbs burst into bloom, take a few minutes to prepare for next year. If flowers have become small (those teeny-weeny tulips) or display only leaves, you'll probably want to replace them next fall. Now's the time to mark the places you will put them next year. I use small garden stakes with a note in indelible marker, telling me what color and kind of bulb to add. I also make a rough plan of the bed with the same information. Between the two, I'll know what to order next September.

To keep your bulbs healthy, add a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 as soon as they start poking through the ground, working it into the top two inches of soil. Remove petals after they discolor but keep bulb foliage until it turns yellow. When the leaves die down, separate crowded clumps, replanting only the largest bulbs. Plant daffodils and tulips 6 to 8 apart and deep; crocus, squills, aconite, snowdrops and other minor bulbs should be spaced 3 to 4 apart and 4 to 5 deep.

It's Time for Spring Cleaning
Dividing Bulbs
Dividing Bulbs
Begin in mid-March and early April to remove mulch from your beds. Then work thoroughly within consecutive designated areas over as many days as it takes. That way, you can examine everything without feeling overwhelmed. Remove weeds by hand, using a slim digging tool to get the roots. In lieu of a vee-shaped crab grass remover, an old table knife or screwdriver may be used to pop out the offending weed. Be careful! At this stage of growth, it's all too easy to mistake a cherished perennial for a weed. Put wire cages and other supports over plants that will require them later. Wait till the first two weeks of April to divide old perennials. (Late blooming perennials are best divided in early spring and early-blooming perennials during the fall.) Spring dividing is best done when plants are under 6 to 8 inches. Dig the entire plant out of the ground and either pull roots apart or slice with a sharp spade.

If the Postman Knocks Too Soon
When delivery is too prompt, what can you do with the early arriving plants? If they are packaged, unwrap, check, and remove dead or damaged parts. (If burlapped or balled, leave wrappings in place and water if the cloth seems dry.) When temperatures are above freezing, you may hold plants for one or two days in a shaded cool spot, covering the roots with damp moss, wood chips, leaves or other organic material. For longer periods of time, heel them in or plant temporarily in a pot. When temperatures are below freezing, store in a garage or similar place where the temperature will remain at about 40 degrees.

A Date to Remember
Don't rush into anything. The last potential freeze date in Suffolk County is April 20th. After that, the sky's the limit for annuals and tender perennials.