Also, the forsythia is in bloom in some places and ready to pop
in others. That means, if you were planning to apply crabgrass
preventer, it should be applied rather quickly.
While 60-70-degree temperatures get us used to spring and
summer, we may be jumping the gun on planting warm-season garden
items. Witness the 30-degree temperature drop of the last week.
Many annual flowers, tomato plants and other warm-season plants
should not be set out until after May 10. When we look at our
average frost-free date, we see that it is April 25. About half
the time in the last 30 years, the average last spring killing
frost has occurred by this date. That also means that about half
the time it hasn't.
Of course, the dates are earlier if you use protective
covers, such as milk jugs, row covers or wall-of-water types of
protection. Usually it is just as easy to wait until the
recommended date, and that would be after the range of April
25-May 10 for green beans, sweet corn and tomatoes. These are
all considered "tender vegetables."
Melons, peppers, pumpkin and squash are considered
"warm-loving" and should be planted in the range from May 10 to
June 1. Pumpkins planted for Halloween jack-o'-lanterns should
be planted about Father's Day. These pumpkins will get ripe too
quickly for use in late October if planted at the normal time.
Pumpkins for pies can be planted in the May 10-June 1 period.
Any time now, when soil conditions permit, it is time to
plant vegetables such as asparagus crowns, leaf lettuce, onions,
peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb plants, spinach and turnips.
Give it another week or two and it is time to plant broccoli,
cabbage and cauliflower. As with most things, a little bit of
planning goes a long way in preventing problems later on.
[to top of second column]
Questions abound regarding fertilizing the garden. The rule-of-thumb
rate for fertilizing flower or vegetable gardens (without soil test
information) is about 15 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet.
If you are using 12-12-12 or 13-13-13 fertilizer, use about 12
pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Soil pH may need to be adjusted due to the addition of lime and
sulfur, which are acidifying. Generally, about 4.25 pounds of lime
neutralizes the acidity from 1 pound of nitrogen or sulfur. Beware
of pH requirements for different plants before you go out to apply
lime. Surrounding plants are also affected. Examples would be
blueberries, rhododendron, azalea, pin oaks and many evergreens,
which are acid-loving plants.
It is about time
to mow already, and remove no more than one-third of the leaf
blade at a time to prevent raking or catching clippings.
Cut back butterfly
bushes to live material, with a 10-inch maximum height.
Cut back mums, but
leave 2 inches of dead material since much stored food is
Cut back ornamental grasses to a height
of 4 inches or so.
University of Illinois Extension]