GARDENER’S CHECKLIST: Week of April 7, 2022

Grecian windflower (anemone blanda) is one in the sequence of spring flowering bulbs that can adorn home landscapes.

* Start tomatoes indoors this weekend if you have not already done so. It is not too late. Plant a beefsteak variety of tomato for slicing and for juice, a plum type for canning, sauce, and roasting, and a cherry type for salads.

* Check seedlings growing in pots or flats that are placed near windows. If not rotated routinely, the seedlings will lean toward the light, ultimately causing lop-sided plants.

Seedlings need to be rotated to avoid drooping.
If not rotated daily, seedlings placed near a window will lean and ultimately result in droopy plants. Droopy is sad.

* Be sure seedlings of vegetables and flowers are adequately watered. That may mean watering on a daily schedule, especially if the seedlings are near a heat source or in a cold frame. Since they have very little root structure at this point, they’ll need almost constant moisture. Once seedlings have wilted, their chances of recovery are slim.

* Apply mulch to flower and shrub borders. It will be easier to spread the mulch around herbaceous perennials now while the plant shoots are just emerging.

Mulch spreads easier before the plants start growing.
Apply mulch to flower, shrub, and mixed borders now, while spreading the mulch is easy.

* Take a moment to check your landscape for any spring flowering bulbs coming into flower. As spring progresses, so does the sequence of bloom. Besides early crocus and snowdrops, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda) are now flowering. Winter aconite makes a colorful ground cover when planted in quantity beneath trees and shrubs. Plan to do so next fall.

* Use an African violet as an attractive centerpiece on the dining table. Though each blossom on an African violet plant will remain in bloom for two weeks or a little more, the plant will continue to set new flowers almost all year long.

African violets keep flowering
With their almost non-stop flowering, African violets make a great centerpiece for the dining room table.

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There have been some fierce winds that swept through the area since the beginning of the year. In their wake there have been many damaged tree limbs.

In the good old days when a storm-damaged branch had to be removed from a tree it was commonplace to cut off the branch flush against the tree trunk. Now, the prevailing theory on branch pruning strongly opposes such a practice. Studies have found that a flush cut not only delays healing of the pruning wound but also increases the likelihood of decay developing in the region of the trunk where the severed branch originated. On the other hand, leaving branch stubs also increases the chances of disease or pest invasion of otherwise healthy wood.

Hmmm……what to do?

For quickest healing and prevention of wood decay, tree pathologists recommend that all or most of the branch collar be left intact when pruning. The branch collar is the swollen or raised ring that is visible at the base of a branch. Pruning cuts should be made right at the outer edge of the branch collar.

It is also important to trim away any loose bark around the pruning wound. With a razor knife, trim away frayed bark leaving only bark that is firmly attached to the underlying wood.

Now, just think of all the trees you’ve killed over the years using flush cuts instead of the currently accepted pruning technique. Nothing like a little guilt trip to start the day.

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