It's Time to ...

Posted: May 17, 2013

Start planting warm-season plants outdoors. Without fear of frost, you can now plant your squash, beans, and tomatoes - as well as annual flowers - directly in the garden. If you've been growing seedlings indoors, be sure to harden them off before planting outdoors. For two or three days, put them outside during the day in a partially shaded place and bring them indoors overnight.

Give peas a chance. Peas will be more productive if they can grow up with some kind of support. Use metal or wooden stakes, or any stems, twigs or branches durable enough to stand up to the weather. (I'm using the strongest of last year's ornamental grass stems recently cut from the garden.) They should also be tall enough for whatever kind of peas you're growing. While my Oregon Sugar Pod peas have vines that will grow to 3 to 4 feet, garden peas ( Pisum sativum) can grow from 2 to 6 feet, depending on the variety. Whatever you choose, be sure to place the supports at 9- to 12-inch intervals in the pea patch, and plant them deep enough that they won't fall over.

Prune raspberry canes. By this week, you can see which canes have died and which live canes are sporting newly sprouted leaves. Prune the dead canes back to ground level. Because flowering and subsequent fruiting occurs at the tips, be sure to cut back only the dead tips of live canes.

Discover the secret to planting spring bulbs. Buying bulbs in the fall isn't the only way to add life to your garden. Now that most bulbs are done blooming, you can dig and divide your own bulbs while the foliage is still green and growing. Find bare spots in the garden, or even in the lawn, where there's room for more. Use a flat nursery spade or pointed shovel to dig deep enough to get underneath the bulb roots or you'll only end up with lots of leaves. Lift each clump out of the ground and divide into two or more smaller clumps. Dig new holes, sprinkle a handful of bulb fertilizer in the bottom, cover with an inch of soil (to avoid fertilizer burn), plant the new clump, firm the soil around it, and water deeply. Apply these same techniques to the division that's being replanted in the original spot.

Offer to help with garden cleanup. While you may have caught up on your garden work, maybe a family member, neighbor, or friend could use some help. If you don't have a garden of your own, it's a great way to get your hands in the dirt.


Patricia Schrieber is director of education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( www.phsonline.org), and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com). Contact her at pschrieber@pennhort.org.

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