JAKES BRANCH NATURE CENTER
SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2012
10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Learn from the American Littoral Society how to use native plants and other lawn, garden, and home maintenance practices to help Barnegat Bay and its tributaries in your own back yard.
Spring Check List
By Judy DeFiglio
All I can say is WOW what a winter this has
been. It’s hard to believe that last
year we spent the entire winter buried under a foot of snow and this year we
never had more than a dusting. No, I
will not get into my thoughts on global warming, but March has just arrived and
I already have flowers blooming. The
weatherman is predicting a high of 67 today and when I finish this blog you can
bet I am heading out to the garden. I
will take a walk around and make a list of chores that need to be done.
Garden cleanup is a must ASAP. My perennials are emerging way ahead of
schedule and due to a back injury I never finished my fall cleanup, so removing
the old stems and raking the beds is a critical task. One word of caution, even
if it’s a beautiful day stay out of the garden if the soil is wet or you will
compact the soil and damage your garden.
Next on the list, I take all the leaves I
raked up, and head to the compost pile. I’ll add some of the leaves to the pile and
save the rest to add throughout the season. This will keep my compost balanced when I start adding the grass
clippings once mowing starts. While I am
at the compost pile I’ll fill my wheelbarrow with some of the rich, finished compost
that has been cooking all winter. I will
top dress my garden beds with the compost. Compost is the #1 thing you can do
for your garden. It enriches the soil,
it enhances the plants so no fertilizer is needed, it’s safe for the
environment, it’s organic, it takes tons of material that would otherwise be
added to our landfills and creates
“black gold” for your garden, it reduces pests and diseases on your plants and
If you don’t have a compost pile or bin,
make starting one the next project on your to do list. Even the smallest property has the room. You can even make compost in a garbage can.
Done correctly, there is no smell and little work, and did I mention it’s FREE!
Checking the list we move to digging and
dividing the perennials. Some I will
divide because they grew too large last year, others because I want more of a
particular plant. Some perennials I will
move to a new spot because I think they will look better. All of these projects are easy to do. Just
dig around the perimeter of the plant, digging deep enough to get the roots.
Lift the plant out of the hole and slice it into sections being careful not to
cut off the roots, then replant one section in the hole and plant the other
divisions where desired or give them away to a fellow gardener. That’s one of
the great things about natives, they are such great plants that you can dig
them, move them, and share them with others with very little effort.
If adding a new garden bed to your
landscape is on your list, now is a great time to do it. Decide the location, turn the soil, and don’t
forget to add the compost to get your garden off to a great start. Did I mention it’s FREE? You can then plant
seeds, use some of the plants you divided and/or purchase some new ones. This would be a great opportunity to add a
native plant garden or just incorporate some new natives in an existing
bed. For lots of information and ideas
read the older posts on this blog and check out the Littoral Society’s website www.littoralsociety.org for native plant bayscaping designs.
Now the part of the list I admit I
dread. Pull those weeds. A few small weeds ignored now will be a yard
full of large, monster weeds by summer. It’s easy to pull weeds by hand when they are just emerging in spring.
No herbicide needed. Besides it’s great
Last on my list for now is mulch. A nice 3 inch layer of organic mulch will
prevent those weeds I just mentioned and also conserve moisture so you won’t
have to spend more time and money watering.
If you have made the move to gardening
with native plants your spring garden chores are now done. If you still have that high maintenance
garden full of exotics continue on for an endless list of fertilizing, applying
pesticides, watering, pampering, sweating, and spending lots of money.
on Jakes Branch Demonstration Project
for native plant fans: You’ll soon be able to see all your favorite natives up
close and personal at Ocean County’s Jakes Branch County Park. Started last year, several environmental
organizations are combining their effort and plans are in the works to create a
multifaceted demonstration site that will promote “Barnegat Bay Friendly”
landscaping practices. Under the auspices of the Barnegat Bay Partnership the
participant are the Ocean County Soil Conservation, Rutgers University, Ocean
Parks and the Jakes Branch Staff, The Littoral Society, Rutgers Cooperative
Extension and Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve. There will be a native plant trail so you can
observe natives in their natural state and also a native plant demonstration
garden so you can learn how you can use native plants in your own garden. Included
in the project will be demonstration sites showing alternatives to lawns, and the
latest stormwater management. Workshops
and activities will provide a wide variety of information on ways to improve the
health of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem. Stay tuned for more updates.