Warm weather is right around the corner and I know we all can't wait to get our hands in the soil. But it’s important not to clean your beds out too early.
Many insects have wintered over in the leaves, stems and other debris left in your garden. A good rule of thumb is to wait until daytime temperatures reach a constant temperature of 50 degrees for seven consecutive days.
If you clean out your garden too early, you will be throwing away this year’s bees, butterflies and other pollinators. But if you really can't wait, and feel the need to garden earlier, please follow these simple tips:
If you have old stems from last year’s plants, look to see if the ends are plugged with mud. This is a sign that bees and other pollinators could have wintered over in the stems.
Don't bag and toss your stems, just move them to a corner of the garden, tie them in bundles and hang from a tree or fence for a few more weeks so the bees can emerge.
Leaf matter may contain beneficial insects like butterflies, ladybugs and assassin bugs that found a home there for the winter. So move leaf piles to a corner of the garden and leave undisturbed for a few weeks.
When pruning back your shrubs, watch out for chrysalises and cocoons. If a branch is host to one or more, leave it alone.
Even though it sounds like a great idea to get a jump on your mulching, you don't want to smother the soil until it is warmer to avoid harming in-ground nesting insects and bees.
Don't forget a new layer of fresh compost to get that soil in tip-top shape for your plants to thrive. “Good soil” is loose, fertile and well-drained, and has the organic matter and nutrients your particular plant needs to thrive.
Ask your local garden center for tips on what to amend within your current soil so it provides the proper nutrients.
The North Haven Garden Club is a member of The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut Inc., New England Garden Clubs Inc., and The National Garden Clubs Inc.