Forsythia: so much more than just a pretty face!
Forsythia, the symbol of springtime and promise of summer soon to come, is really gardening calendar according to local folklore.
With the start of forsythia blossoms comes an alert to watch out for ticks which begin to emerge from hibernation. The increasing number of cases of Lyme Disease on the Peninsula has become a serious health threat. Following possible exposure to the little critters, the Gardening Grannies suggest you toss your gardening clothes in the washer and shower, doing a full body check for the rascals.
On a positive note and just before the forsythia blossoms open, it's time to apply pre-emergent to your lawns to put a stop to the additional sprouting of weeds. Pre-emergents won't kill the weeds that are already there but will greatly reduce additional unwanted growth. Pre-emergents can also be used around shrubs and other mulched and/or open planting areas. You should not use them in vegetable gardens or where food is grown.
When your forsythias are in full bloom, it's time to take care of late winter pruning of roses and butterfly bushes, cutting both back to 12" to 18". This past winter had particularly harsh spells and, if you see signs of breakage or other winter damage, it is often suggested that your pruning be even more severe, sometimes cutting back butterfly bushes to a mere 2" from the ground. You'll be amazed at how quickly these shrubs recover and sprout re-growth.
If you did your first planting of sugar peas by St. Patrick's Day, as all good gardeners should, the pea plants are probably sprouting tendrils and ready to climb up supports by now. Onions should be up a half dozen inches or more and it's time to get that second planting of sugar peas in.
By the time the petals drop from your forsythia, folk lore says it's safe to plant your potatoes and set out other cold crops such as beets, radishes, carrots, chard, kale, lettuce and carrots.
April 11 is the 50/50 date for the last killing frost in Salisbury. This simply means that half the killing frosts occur before this date and half occur after. It has been a turbulent winter and spring has followed in winter's path with teasingly warm spells followed by cold snaps. Our final frost may be a tad later than usual this year so, for more tender plants, it's wise to wait until we get into May….and then have those row covers handy, just in case.
Gardening Grannies, a group of avid and Master Gardeners, live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to hearing from you.