While records tell that the average last frost date for Central Indiana is May 10, who knows whether we will be coping with 90 degree days or facing sudden spring snow. All bets are off! I’ve weathered some very short springs, some wet springs,a few beautiful drawn-out springs in my many gardening years, but never have I seen a spring come so early and persist.
Although many rejoiced in the warm days, we gardeners are concerned about the possibility of increased pests due to the mild winter. However, according to Timothy Gibb, Purdue’s Extension entomologist, we probably won’t see more insects, just their earlier appearance.
But before you grab any pesticide, remember that Mother Nature has a plan for all the bugs she produces in her spring flash mob. Almost all backyard birds (notable exceptions include goldfinch and doves) feed insects to their nestlings. Even confirmed seeds eaters like cardinals feed soft-bodied, high-protein insects to their young. So, don’t go spraying the bugs with chemicals; there’s a reason for the flurry of early season insects — to feed baby birds!
If you are already tired of mowing, mowing, mowing (especially with gas prices so high), don’t fertilize your lawn in spring or summer! The plan for four or five fertilizer applications was hatched by the fertilizer manufacturers to keep them in business. Grass just doesn’t need that much. In fact, Purdue agronomists agree that a single fall fertilization in September will yield an acceptable lawn with a minimal amount of time and money for upkeep.
One more lawn tip: when mowing, don’t bag it… let the grass clippings lay. They add both nitrogen and organic matter to the soil as they decompose. It’s a mistaken belief that grass clippings contribute to thatch. Excess fertilization and frequent irrigation create thatch and a playground for grubs, fungus and lawn disease.
Got clover in the lawn? Violets? GREAT. Clover gives our stressed honeybees another great source for pollen. Violets are a favored food for the fritillary butterfly to lay her eggs. Increase nature’s odds; go natural in your gardening and enjoy nature’s wildlife.
Got a gardening question, comment or tip to share? Contact Lynn at Lynn@IndianaLivingGreen.com