Ask Yard Care and Equipment Questions
To lime or not to lime? What to do to reduce lawn mower pollution? From April 15 through May 15, get answers to your yard, lawn, and equipment questions via the Yardsmarts Web site (http://www.Yardsmarts.com). Submit your e-mail question and an expert will answer it within 48 hours. Or call Fridays, April 18, 25, and May 2, 9 to talk with experts. Though I wish this Briggs & Stratton outreach offered more environmentally oriented recommendations (like use an electric lawn mower), maybe it eventually will if more of use ask for "green" tips.
Dispose of Electronic Waste Responsibly
Though peripheral to gardening, anyone reading this has likely wondered how to dispose of an old computer. An e-mail notice about spring cleaning electronic equipment came my way. Here's the latest about electronic waste disposal. Check to see if your municipality, nonprofits, or area businesses have an upcoming e-waste collection day. Some organizations accept old working computers and peripherals for reuse or distribution. The eCycling Web site (http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/ecycling/donate.htm) has information about computer donation.
Apple and Dell have take-back programs. Apple (http://www.apple.com/environment/recycling/) has free take-back of I-pods, any cell phones, and any brand computers with the purchase of a new computer. Or for $30 Apple will provide a large box with prepaid shipping label for you to return up to 60 pounds of electronics.
Dell (http://www.dell.com/environment) offers consumers free recycling of any Dell-branded computer equipment, worldwide. There's also free recycling of any computer or printer when a consumer purchases a Dell product.
Fertilize and Tidy Up the Garden
Ease your way into spring gardening with sharp, clean bypass pruners sterilized with alcohol. Clip away dead leaves and brown stems from perennials. Peek around a plant's base with an eye open for green sprouts. Very gently remove leaf debris and mulch accumulated on and around the basal foliage and plant crown. Sprinkle slow-release mineral fertilizer, organic if possible, in the root area according to product directions.
Wait for Dry Soil
Eager to plant new shrubs, perennials, and trees? Keep your shovel in the shed till the garden soil is dry. What is dry soil? Dig up a small handful. Squeeze it into a ball. If it crumbles easily when you open your fingers or give it a poke, it's dry enough to work. Digging in and walking on wet soil seriously and permanently damages soil structure and beneficial microbial activity.
Clean Up and Divide Water Plants
Cut back dead plant debris and move plants to their correct depth in the pond. Is your water lily overgrowing its pot or pushing rhizomes out of the container that sprout roots in the water? Those roots won't take advantage of fertilizer inside the pot, so it's time to divide and propagate. Spring is also the best time to divide dwarf cyprus. Leave soil on the roots and five to six stems per clump.