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Late spring gardening

Here are some tips for taking care of your yards and gardens this time of year:

Bulbs

It's very important to allow the leaves of your spring bulbs to grow on once the flowers have faded. This is when the plants make and store food for next year's bloom. The quality of next year's bloom is directly related to how well the leaves grew this spring.

The leaves can become quite unsightly, but resist the temptation to cut, fold or, depending on whose garden guru advice you're following, even braid the leaves to make them more attractive. If you plant your spring bulbs in a perennial flower bed, the emerging perennials will distract you from the bulb foliage.

Now is a good time to fertilize the bulbs if you haven't already. You can either spread an inch of well rotted manure or compost around the plants or use a liquid fertilizer.

Tulips tend to gradually fade out in our climate so don't be discouraged if yours do, too, although I do hear a few reports from lucky people whose tulips thrive for them. Daffodils are much more prosperous in the North Country, with the added benefit of being slightly toxic so squirrels, deer and rabbits do not eat them. Tulips are like candy to many of these critters.

If your daffodil clumps are packed with foliage but fewer and fewer flowers, it's time to divide them. Wait until the foliage fades on its own then dig up the clumps while the browned foliage is still present to mark the spot. Break the clumps of bulbs apart with your hands then replant them at the same depth, about four inches apart.

Water

This time of year it can be tricky to know when your plants have had enough water. Be careful to not be fooled by a spell of rainy weather. You need a real soaking rain of at least a half inch to really get the soil wet. The ideal rate for most plants is an inch of rain a week, preferably all at once or twice.

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