Before we leave April, let us be thankful for many things: warm days, cheerful flowers, and the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones rock band. With that many years of music, there’s always something to pop up on the iPod that applies to gardening. And while we don’t all have Moves Like Jagger, we can get our gardens going with a few selections to celebrate the greatest band in Rock and Roll history.
Under My Thumb is the perfect opening song for gardeners tidying the beds in spring cleanup. After all, it’s under our green thumbs that plants thrive. Thanks to the hot weather, soil temperatures have warmed, and it’s time to pop potatoes, onions, rhubarb, and asparagus in the ground.
Poke around the perennials beds and pull back mulch slowly from those that have nosed up out of the ground. But be cautious and don’t leave them too exposed – we still have at least a month left of unsettled weather and plunging temperatures can cause tender plants to beg you to Gimme Shelter. If you cave into the temptation to plant tender vegetables, have buckets, cloches, or other coverings handy in case of frost.
Getting out the power equipment and readying it for the season is the perfect time for Start Me Up. Mowers, chainsaws, trimmers – anything gas powered should have a once over to check oil, sharpness of blades, and that bolts are tightened. Hand tools should be sharpened and lightly oiled, with grip tape or rubber in good shape for handling. With a few minutes of preparation, the tools will never stop, never stop, never stop for you throughout the season.
Weeds have sprouted early this year, giving us a Goats Head Soup of problems like puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris), commonly called goat’s head, that causes painful problems for hands and feet. The plant starts off cute, with many small leaflets forming a mat across the ground, but heaven help you when it becomes mature, because this plant’s small burrs hurt when they grab you. Armed with a chemical that stays in the skin after the bur has been pulled off, the painful sting lasts for quite a while.
The Rolling Stones understand the mind of a gardener; we routinely hum You Can’t Always Get What You Want when going about lawn care, or perhaps it’s (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Either is an anthem to the mindset needed to grow turf in Colorado, because lush swaths of green always succumb to blistering heat. Without realistic expectations, well, You’d Be A Fool To Cry. Perfect, weed free, dense lawns are a worthy goal, but keep it real and enjoy a lawn with a few blemishes.
Let it bleed. A gardener’s yard is filled with opportunities for mosquitoes to lay their eggs, since we have pots, buckets, saucers, bird baths, ponds, wheelbarrows, and other accessories stacked around the yard. If you look at the list many of the health agencies have on common breeding areas, gardeners’ yards appear to be mother ships for these insects.
But there is something you can do to reduce the problem of mosquitoes: change bird bath water twice per week; dump out water that collects in the dish beneath pots; turn over unused pots, saucers, trays and buckets; and use Bt doughnuts to float in your ponds or water features. Bt, short for Bacillus thuringiensis, is a natural way to kill off the mosquito larvae in your water.
With a little attention to spring start up in the garden, you’ll be assured of having plenty of Dead Flowers to send to people, or place on your tables in festive displays. For the song isn’t about dried, blackened, crispy blooms; instead it’s all about floral arrangements being sent for various events. Get out your pruners and clip a few blooms for your home, and dance around to the timeless music of the Rolling Stones.