Another winter is coming to an end and it is time to go to the garden to see what has been done this past winter and if there are any urgent measures that require our immediate intervention, or maybe everything is fine and we can wait, for example, for the buds to bloom and learn if this or that branch is frozen, because now they are all flat, smooth and in equal conditions, it is very difficult to know which branch is frozen and which is not – very difficult, especially for a beginning gardener.
But leave the frozen shoots “for later”, how to restorative garden after the winter, and how much work is already done in the garden in spring?
CHECK THE GARDEN AFTER WINTER
Pick a warm, sunny day and go into the garden, look at each tree there. From the ones you just planted last fall until the really old guys in the garden whic have been growing for a year or maybe a dozen years.
Check the shoots, maybe some have cracked and you can support them and cover the cracked areas with garden varnish or, if the cracks are large, it’s worth removing the branches altogether. If so, the first step should be to lighten the thick branches by removing all the growth, then sawing from the top, and finally cutting from the bottom so you can remove the huge branches without risking scratching the bark, which is difficult to deal with.
Next, check the crown; there may be shoots in the middle that are also broken or dried out, or that have grown into the middle of the crown. There is still time – you can remove them and cover the cuts with garden varnish or garden paint.
At the end of your review, write down in your notebook the first things you’ll do in the next few days so you won’t forget about it.
Spring is also a great time to give your garden a thorough cleaning. There is usually a lot of trash around, including lawn mulch debris, paper, newspapers, and even seemingly obscure trash. All of it should be collected and placed in a metal bucket or on a landfill and burned, rather than buried in the ground as some people do. This seemingly harmless trash can easily overwinter under a thick blanket of snow to contain pests or diseases.
After clearing the trash, try looking for pest nests and egg-laying sites on shoots and tree trunks, and if you find any, scrape them off with a wood scraper and burn them as well. Mummy-like fruits forgotten on branches or dropped in the root zone should also go into the firebox. Don’t forget that this is a real hotbed of infection and sometimes very dangerous.
REMOVE WOUNDS, CRACKS, MOSS, AND LICHEN
Before start the new season, your trunk should be well cleaned. For example, to remove moss and lichen, but before cleaning with a wooden scraper, the trunk and scaffold knots must be treated with a special compound, which consists of 40-50 grams of wood ash or wood ash that should be dissolved in a liter of water, then boil this solution, cool it and dilute half a bar of soap in it, which will act as an adhesion agent. Such a solution can be used as a preventive measure to treat the whole tree, but it is better to thoroughly treat the areas where moss and lichens settle.
You can also use a solution of copper sulfate, which earlier treated all the gardens on the farm, there is this procedure called blue spraying. To treat, one hundred grams of copper sulfate should be diluted in a bucket of water and then loaded into a backpack sprayer or mister and treat the entire tree as thoroughly as possible, especially where there is lichen and moss and at the forks of branches where decaying fungi often settle because of the moisture that accumulates there. After any of these treatments, moss, and lichen found on the tree can be easily removed with a wooden scraper.
Next, remove any areas of bark that have decayed or are severely damaged with a wood scraper. After that, chew everything with garden varnish or, if available, rub it with a large bunch of leafy sumac oxalic acid promotes rapid healing of wounds on trees, the old-timers say.
If the wound is very large and you have a lot of sumac, then you can knead it by hand into a bundle, place it over the wound, and bandage it. In this case, the layers of sumac should equal about 0.4inch (1cm). It is better to use an elastic bandage, or use tights made of Kaplon, which are more reliable in this regard.
As we have already said, small cracks and wounds are most easily sealed with hand-heated garden varnish. Wounds of medium diameter, where you need a lot of garden varnish, you can insulate in a different way, by making something similar to garden varnish, but with your own hands, cheap and reliable.
To do this, take two hundred grams of ordinary clean clay, mix it with one hundred grams of cow or dairy manure – it does not matter, and then add to this mixture normal straw, but cut it as fine as possible with scissors. Then little by little (do not overflow) pour room temperature water into the mixture until it becomes a paste, stirring constantly so that the substance will be as thick as good country sour cream.
Once the compound is ready, it can be used to apply plaster to wounds and fissures, but before doing so, it is best to remove all the dirt with a sharp gardening knife and scrub it until it reaches healthy tissue. This way, the compound will stay on longer and the wound will heal more quickly.
PERFORMING A SPRING WHITEWASH
Whitewashing is also important in the spring to protect the trunk and skeletal branches from the scorching spring sun and a host of pests and diseases. Whitewashing also prevents the sharp temperature swings that often occur in the spring – when the sun is very active in heating the bark during the day, and at night the temperature sometimes drops almost to 32°F (0°C) and the bark can’t handle it and cracks, it is already an open door to infection. Brushing white will balance the temperature fluctuations, preserve the bark and protect the tree.
You can brush white with breathable white acrylic paint and a standard lime solution, but since it’s spring and it can rain at any time, it’s best to add to the standard ingredients that will stay on the tree as long as possible. For example, an economical or antibacterial soap.
SAVING PLANTS FROM RODENTS
Even in early spring, when there is little to no snow, voracious rodents will attack your trees, so protective netting should never be removed. If they come loose or tear somewhere, they should be replaced, preferably on all trees, so that each net reaches the height of the first skeletal branch and holds them as securely as possible.
If you and your neighbors don’t have pets or birds, it’s a good idea to secure yourself by placing poisoned bait around the trees as well. If trees still have snow – especially drupe trees, which don’t need to bloom early or be exposed to back frost during flowering – make the snow as thick as possible, which will also keep rodents from sniffing it out.
About whitewashing: Whitewashing is good, and whitewashing is also a strong deterrent to rodents destroying bark and skeletal limbs in early spring.
MULCHING THE ROOT ZONE
Mulching has many advantages, starting with saving water, in this case melting water. Once the snow melts and the water seeps into the soil, it actively evaporates away in the first rays of the hot sun.
Therefore, to prevent this, the root zone should be covered with humus – for nutrients and protection against water evaporation. In this case, the humus layer should be equivalent to a few inches.
The second purpose of mulch is, as we just mentioned, nutrition: mulch humus provides additional organic matter to the plant, which, by the way, is absolutely safe.
The third purpose of mulch is to prevent the formation of sloughs in the soil, i.e. the soil is free to breathe and pass water and air, but in this case, it is best to loosen the soil to a depth of a few inches before covering the root zone with mulch.
Mulch also provides protection in the event of a sudden cold snap, as the root system is no longer covered by snow and can be affected. So pay attention to the weather forecast and if frost is forecast, quickly apply 2-2.5inch (5-7cm) of mulch to the root zone.
Mulch also prevents the growth of active weeds; of course, protection is better if you get rid of those weeds that start to appear on the soil surface before you lay down a layer of mulch.
It is important to use humus mulch because sawdust slows soil warming and peat can strongly acidify the soil.
Be careful when using mulch on drupe species because there is a distance of 1-1.5inch (3-4 cm) from the root crown so that water does not accumulate in the root crown due to the mulch and thus cause it to hatch, which is very sensitive for, for example, hairy cherry trees.
If there is time and opportunity, a series of grafts can be transplanted. In spring, grafting can be done in the plot, while the weather is cold and there is no sap flow, you can buy dwarf rootstocks, using a tongue modified method, at home, to make seedlings of different varieties, simply cut shoots from the garden plants and graft them on the rootstock.
The main thing is not to go too far, there should be enough space on the plot for all plants. After grafting, the newly grafted seedlings should be buried in moist sawdust in the basement until they are planted on the plot.
NURSERY OPENING – YOU CAN BUY SEEDLINGS
Those who do not know how to graft or do not want to graft can go to the nearest nursery and buy seedlings of one or the other variety they like. In this case, the main thing is to give preference to the variety specifically delimited in your area, which is a guarantee of high yield. When buying, you must carefully check the root system and above-ground parts, and take only those seedlings whose lower and top parts are alive – not over-dried, not broken, not frozen.
When the soil has completely thawed, you can start fertilizing. Applying diammonium hydrogen phosphate in the spring is usually the best way to go. There is plenty of moisture in the soil and there is no need to dilute it with water, but what you should do is loosen the soil slightly and mulch it slightly after applying the fertilizer. Usually, under trees over five years old, you can safely do a matchbox of nitro-ammonium phosphate, distributed as evenly as possible over the root zone, and if the tree is less than five years old, then half a matchbox of the same compound will suffice.
PLACE A BARREL ON THE PLOT TO COLLECT RAINWATER
This is especially important for large estate owners because there is always a need for moisture on the plot and sometimes there is nowhere to get it. The easiest option – is to put the barrel on the roof and bring it to the elbow of the gutter – if the barrel is painted black, the water will be both rain and warm. You can always use the barrel to store ordinary water, for example from a well or pump.
MAKE ROOM FOR A COMPOST
At the beginning of the season, sometimes there is nothing to compost on the compost pile, and the exact opposite when the season is in full swing or coming to an end, so leaving space on the pile is a must. Everything is placed there: dried shoots and fallen leaves, as well as various old mulching materials (organic of course). The location should be chosen away from resting places and placed in nooks and crannies that are not usually occupied by anything.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE PLANTING PLAN
If the plot is in the development phase, such a plan is necessary to consider all the details, “push down” the trees and shrubs that are already growing, find out their final height, the width of the canopy, do not forget the neighbors, even if you are not an artist, simply cross with the signature, what and in the future will grow and will contribute to your life and live the plants in the plot.
CHECK THE INVENTORY
When everything seems to be done in the garden, you can start doing some secondary tasks, however directly related to the garden, such as checking the tools: maybe the pruners and saws need to be sharpened, the shovels and rakes need to be replaced with clippers, the hoes need to be replaced with more modern and ergonomic tools. Check garden ladders and replace them, rivets, bolts if necessary, because ladders – quite an important tool when working in the garden, and if you find yourself working with broken ladders or bolts that hold the bars popped out, it will not end well.
PAY ATTENTION TO FENCES, GAZEBOS, PLANTERS
Maybe the fence needs to be repaired, the gazebo needs to be painted, and the trellis need to secure the anchors more firmly and tighten the wire more? Believe me, it just doesn’t seem enough time for these “little things” right now. When the season starts, about the bent fence or rusty pergola, you’ll simply forget in the turmoil. So, you should do it now.
You’ve realized that even in spring, there are many important things to do whenever you step out into the garden. I hope we’ve helped you by giving you the right priorities.