Get Ready to Grow
Here comes summer, and with it, your garden’s biggest growth spurt. Get ahead of those extra inches by pinching back new growth on annuals and perennials to encourage more branching and blooms. Use your garden shears or thumb and forefinger to remove the plant’s tips just above the uppermost pair of leaves.
Tall, bushy, and vining plants (e.g., delphinium, peony, or clematis) benefit from support, so get plant cages, bamboo stakes, and trellises into the soil now. Old fence posts, shovel handles, or sections of snow fence make economical plant reinforcements.
Amend garden soil while there’s space to work around your plants. Add in 2 to 4 inches of compost, aged manure, or peat moss to the top 8 inches of soil and follow up with a fresh layer of mulch. Fallen pine needles, grass clippings, or even shredded leaves will do the trick in a pinch.
Primp the Patio
Spruce up outdoor furniture for spring with a quick clean up. Whisk away dirt and cobwebs with a broom or soft-bristle brush, then sponge down chairs, tables, and cushions with a solution of 1/4 cup mild dishwashing detergent and 1 gallon of warm water and wipe dry with a clean rag. Use fine grit sandpaper to remove peeling paint, mold, rust, or even bird droppings and follow up with touch-up paint as needed. Treat wood furniture with a coat of water repelling wood sealer, metal furniture with liquid or paste auto wax, and aluminum furniture with a one-to-one mixture of vinegar and water. (Check the manufacturer’s care instructions.)
By planting your veggies with the right partner, you’ll keep pests at bay and encourage growth. Cheerful nasturtiums deter squash bugs and whiteflies (their edible flowers also make a tasty addition to fresh salads) while marigolds repel nematodes, tomato hornworms, and bean, cucumber, and asparagus beetles. Peppers thrive alongside carrots, onions, parsnips, and peas, and tomatoes flourish near basil, bush bean, chive, lettuce, and cucumber.