Weeds in flower beds are usually easy to spot and so are pulled early. Do the same in your vegetable garden. Weeds are thieves of water, light, nutrients and the precious room to grow. Weeding early means they don’t get to set seeds and make more weeds.
Want to do a good deed for the bees and butterflies in your neighborhood? Plant a small pollinator garden. Find a sunny spot anywhere on your property and clear a space. Plant seeds at the depth specified on the package. Here’s a quick list of flowers that grow easily from seed and benefit the environment: bachelor buttons, cosmos, nasturtium, poppies, and zinnias. Keep the area you planted watered until the new plants have grown. Seeds that dry out won’t sprout.
Plant a garden for the pollinators. Annuals such as marigolds are favorites for bees and butterflies.
Feed your bulbs now — before, during, or after they have bloomed. This helps the foliage to send food to the bulb which it will use to grow next spring’s flowers. Do NOT cut off foliage, or braid it until it has turned yellow, or you will not have blooms in 2018. Hate the look of yellowing foliage? Plant annual among them to hide it. As the flowers on your spring bulbs wilt, do them a favor and pop off their heads. You want your bulb to put its energy into producing more bulbs, not producing a hybrid seed from whatever pollen it received.
Deadhead spent bulbs so they put their energy into strengthening their bulb.
The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture reports that gypsy moth caterpillars are emerging from the egg masses laid in trees last fall. Check trees on your property daily for signs of them. If you see tiny caterpillars, it’s time to act. BT-K (Bacillus thuringiensis K) is an environmentally friendly spray available at local nurseries. When the caterpillars ingest the BT-K, it will kill them. But even with this, please use it carefully and read the application information. Our thus-far wet spring offers hope that, in future years, a naturally-occurring fungus will keep the population of gypsy moths in check.
Emerging gypsy moth caterpillars are susceptible to a spraying of BT-K
Garlic mustard: this highly invasive plant has arrived and is threatening our forests. In some areas it has all but eliminated the native forest floor plants, and even has the ability to stop the germination of some tree seeds. You are most likely to find it around the edges of your lawns and gardens, in disturbed areas, under shrubs and so forth. Pulling it whenever you see it is the first line of defense. Garlic mustard is in flower the first week of May, but will continue to bloom as young plants grow.