Now is the time to plant some frost-tolerant perennials such as the seeds of columbine, pansies, sweet alyssum, sweet peas and veronica directly into the cold ground.
The secret to direct sowing into the ground is to operate or loosen up the soil first so the seedlings can set down roots and to guard the seeds and the seedlings from birds and slugs. In Western Washington, little slugs are hatching this thirty day period and they lie just underneath the soil waiting for sweet seedlings to sprout. The new sprouts are eaten overnight and newbie gardeners blame the deficiency of seed germination for the failure when actually it is hungry slug dedication.
Q. We have slugs and have invested in slug bait in the previous 12 months to protect out vegetable commences in the spring. We use a pet-risk-free slug bait termed Sluggo. My spouse states to set the bait on major of the new seedlings to destroy the slugs. I say utilize bait absent from the seedlings to entice the slugs away. Your opinion?
A. You are correct. Do not set slug bait on best of plants even if they are non-harmful baits. Scatter the bait where the slugs conceal in tall grass, rockeries or at the edges of your planting region.
If birds are feeding on the pellets (it won’t damage them but why squander bait?) set damaged pots or wood shingles in the place and spot the bait beneath these chicken boundaries that however permit slugs to arrive at the bait.
Q. What is the best fertilizer for evergreen shrubs? Can I use a common plant foods like 20-20-20 on evergreens or do they have to have a special fertilizer? We have a experienced evergreen hedge that I want to retain healthier. Thank you. — J.S.
A. Frequently the best fertilizer for mature trees and shrubs is introducing no fertilizer at all. A 20-20-20 plant foodstuff is greatest for rapid- expanding annuals or veggies in late spring but encouraging quick advancement on trees and shrubs can make them extra vulnerable to frost injury and far more beautiful to bugs and disorder that really like gentle and succulent new advancement. If your hedge seems to be wholesome, go away it by itself. If your hedge seems like it is turning yellow, a gradual-release plant food made for acid- loving crops is best.
Q. When is the most effective time to use a mulch on top rated of my soil to hold down weeds? I want to use a bark mulch close to trees and shrubs. — R.T., Tacoma
A. If your major target is weed manage, then March is a good time to smother modest weeds with a 2- to 3-inch in layer of bark or wood chips. All plants will need sunlight and smothering compact shot weeds and chick weeds now will avoid them from scattering seed. Weeds with deep roots these kinds of as dandelions should be dug up just before introducing the mulch.
To just take care of a really weedy situation, subscribe to more newspapers. Then you can layer numerous sections of damp newspaper suitable on best of weeds, address this with a few inches of bark mulch, and the beds will glimpse neat and tidy with no eliminating the weeds.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State College and is the author of a number of books. Get to her at binettigarden.com.