By Carol Stocker
Weed garlic mustard, a new invasive that is spreading remarkably fast, before the small white flowers on to of skinny foot tall stems got to seed, to it will build a seed bank in your soil that will sprout for years, even if you weed religiously after this year.
With rain finally predicted, plant seeds and nursery plants that will need water. You can probably plant seeds or seedlings of cold weather vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower outdoors now as well as beets, peas, leeks, lettuce, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, and onions. Early planting, of course, is a calculated risk. But this year it seems one worth taking. Placing a floating row cover over these crops will help get them off to a good start.
You can start dividing and replanting crowded summer and fall blooming perennials such as Shasta daisy, astilbe, rudbeckia, coreopsis, sedum, aster, and chrysanthemum, but it's better to wait until fall to divide spring-blooming plants. Plant plant trees and shrubs as they become available in garden centers
Winter moths have hatched out early like everything else so if these inchworms are a problem in your area, hire a pest management company to spray their favorite foods with Spinosad, an organic fermented bacteria found in Bully's Eye and Monterrey Spray. Focus on oak, maple and fruit trees, blueberry and rose bushes especially. You can also spray horticultural oil on pear and apple trees now to protect them from scale, aphids, and other sucking insects.
Feed broadleaved evergreens with Holly-tone, mulch them. and water deeply. Weed out errant grass and perennial weeds from flower and vegetable beds. Spread beds with compost or a slow release fertilizer such as Osmacote and cover the garden with three inches of mulch to reduce weeds and conserve moisture. Then spread a layer of Preen on top to prevent more weed germination and water deeply.
Get your lawn mower and tools sharpened. Prune out winter killed or damaged branches on roses and other shrubs. It's easier to see what you're doing before woody plants finish leafing out. You can also patch your lawn with grass seed, but keep it constantly moist for the first ten days.
Poison ivy is easiest to kill now if you spray the shiny three part leaflets with Round-Up while they are still small and red. Always use gloves and protective clothing when working around poison ivy stems and roots, which can cause dermatitis even when leafless or dead. Use soap or detergent to wash any clothing or tools that may have had contact with poison ivy.