Animal pest problems occur in all seasons of the garden, but fall and spring are peak periods for plunder. Luckily these seasons, and fall in particular, are also the best times for beleaguered gardeners to mount a defense against foraging four-legged gourmands such as deer, squirrels, rabbits, voles, moles and other assorted animal pests. In fall, a good garden clean-up tops the list of animal deterrents. After fall bulb planting, remove planting debris to rob squirrels of scent clues.
Mulch is useful to help retain soil moisture and maintain more constant cool soil temperatures. Apply mulch after weather turns cold. To mulch too soon only satisfies small creatures, who find earth-warmed mulch a great cozy place for winter tunneling and nesting.
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) consists of over 300 species of flowers including the carnation (the common name refers to Prince William, Duke of Cumberland (d. 1765), who put down the Jacobite risings). Originating in southern Europe and Asia, with some varieties found as far north as Russia, Sweet William is a biennial that comes in a variety of pink colors.
Sweet William is a biennial plant with a two-year life cycle, producing only leaves in the first year. Sweet William plants, which look very similar to carnations, can be grown from seeds, cuttings or plant divisions. If planting seeds, plan on starting them indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost for spring blooms. The young seedlings generally transplant well and can be set outdoors after the last frost. Seeds sown in the first year bloom in the spring of the second year.
Certain varieties of perennials can be used to create new plants. This is accomplished by the use of various propagation methods. The general methods used include cuttings, division of old clumps, propagation from leaves, and budding. Some varieties can be propagated by a number of methods; for others, only one way works.
Cutting is the process of removing a small portion of a growing plant and treating it so that roots are developed. The cutting can then be transplanted and will, in time, produce its own blooms. Cuttings are usually made from a portion of the stem, from leaves, from tubers or from roots. Cuttings are usually rooted in a mixture of sand and peat moss. Some varieties can be induced to root in water, in sphagnum moss, or in light, sandy soil.
Planting lavender (Lavandula) is a great way to start off the spring gardening season. Easy to grow, these fragrant flowers can be pink, blue, grey, white or purple. A little effort now will pay off for years to come as this low maintenance perennial yields its aromatic and useful blossoms. Purchase a plant from a nursery, choose the right location, prepare the soil and plant. Just add a little fertilizer and water and watch it grow. Following these simple tips will provide a high likelihood of success.
The easiest way to plant lavender is to start with an established potted plant purchased from a nursery. Many lavender varieties can be started from seed, but that is more difficult and doesn’t have a high success rate. Choose a plant in a 4″ to 8″ pot with healthy leaves that are green (or gray depending on the variety) but not brown.