June-bearing strawberries fruit heavily once in early summer, as their name suggests. Good cultivars for our region include 'Earliglow', an early variety with excellent flavor; 'Allstar', a productive and disease-resistant, mid-season fruiter; late mid-season 'Jewel' with dark red berries and excellent flavor; 'Sparkle', a late variety with excellent fruit quality and good disease resistance; and 'Late Glow', a late bearer that is hardy and productive. Day-neutral strawberries set smaller crops of berries but continue to produce fruit from early summer to fall. Good cultivars for our region are 'Tribute' and 'Tristar', which are both productive, with good fruit quality and disease resistance.
Assess Winter Damage to Lawns
After the snow has melted, but before the grass has begun to green up, you may notice signs of winter damage to lawns. Snow mold forms circular gray or pinkish patches, especially in areas where the snow cover lasted longest. Large areas of straw-colored turf can be the result of winter drying injury; this usually happens in exposed areas with little snow cover. Dead patches of grass along roads, drives, and walks is often due to salt damage. Wait until the soil has dried up some before walking on the lawn to avoid compacting wet soil. Then gently rake away dead grass and flood salt-laden areas with water a few times to wash away salt. Once the nights stay above 35-40 degrees, reseed bare or thin areas of the lawn. Hold off on fertilizing until the grass is growing actively; wait until you've had to mow it a couple of times first.
Plant Spring Veggies
Depending on where you garden in our region, it may be time soon to plant the most cold-tolerant crops, including peas, radishes, lettuce, scallions, spinach, and turnips, all of which can go in the ground as soon as it can be worked in the spring. To check if your soil is ready, grab a handful and squeeze. If it sticks together in a tight ball, let it dry out more before you begin planting.
Plant Seeds of Mealycup Sage
Mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea) is a tender perennial that is grown as an annual in our region. To get the longest season of flowers, start seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before your last frost date. Salvia seeds are short-lived, so it's best to purchase fresh seed each season. Soak seeds overnight in tepid water before planting to speed germination. 'Victoria' is a popular cultivar with intensely violet-blue flowers; 'Evolution' is an All-America Selection with deep purple blossoms and improved branching and flowering; 'Victoria White' bears pure white flowers; 'Strata' produces unique deep blue and white, bi-color flowers.
Just like sharp knives in the kitchen are a cook's best friend, sharp garden tools make gardening easier. Sharp pruners and loppers make clean cuts that will heal readily. But don't forget about tools like shovels, spades, and hoes. Sharp blades on these tools makes digging, weeding, and edging less work. Now is a good time to sharpen your tools so they are ready for the gardening season.