Investing in a rain barrel

Ray Baird

THE SWAN SONG OF THE BEAUTIFUL JUDAS TREE The woodlands and Carolina roadsides have been blessed for several weeks with the splendor of white dogwoods in the mist of the hot pinks of the Judas trees adorned in mixture of light green leaves on limbs awakening from a cold winter. Artist may try, but it’s difficult to paint such beauty on a sheet of canvas! Usually when the season of the “Dogwood Winter” is over, (which is the season when dogwoods and Judas trees are blooming), the time to plant warm weather vegetables is almost here.

THE SEASON OF THE POLLEN IS NOW ON IT’S WAY with leaves now in bud and appearing on trees, we can expect a month or so of yellow, dusty, pollen as one tree after another begins to dump their cargo of pollen. To protect your eyes and lungs, you may want to wear a pair of sunglasses and a face mask to avoid allergies. Rinse the deck and carport or blow the pollen off with the leaf blower. Use a spray bottle of glass cleaner and keep a bottle in your automobile to clean the dusty pollen from your windshield and door panels every day. The pollen in one form or another will be with us all the way until the end of May.

A PLASTIC RAIN BARREL IS A GREAT INVESTMENT when it comes to gardening, nothing can replace a shower of rain and a rain barrel can take advantage of saving many precious raindrops to reuse in the garden plot. You can purchase a rain barrel with a lid and drain spout in different sizes. The lid makes the barrel a good investment because insects can’t harbor in the water and catch the rain. When you need water, just turn the spout on the bottom and let the rainwater run into a water sprinkling can. You can mix liquid fertilizer in the rainwater and give thirsty vegetables a double shot of pep. Most garden shops, hard wares, and home improvement stores sell these rain barrels and they are indeed a unique product.

REMEMBER TO HARDEN OFF PLANTS BEFORE SETTING THEM OUT IN THE GARDEN PLOT. Most plants we purchase are raised in the conditions inside warm greenhouses and have been protected from cool environments. At this season of the garden, plants need to be hardened off before planting in cool garden soil to avoid transplant shock. After mid- May, the soil will warm up and you can transplant directly into the garden but now the plants need several days on the deck or porch in the sun to get them hardened to what conditions they will face in the garden plot. Just remember, the plants are still thriving while they are being hardened of, so you are not losing any time, and best of all, you will not be April fooled.

THE SEASON OF BUYING PLANTS TO SET IN GARDEN PLOT During the next month, many plants will be purchased and planted and many will not survive because many of them got to a bad start because they were poorly selected and were not healthy at time of purchase. There are certain guidelines to follow when selecting the plants for your garden. Here is a practical guide to se4lecting healthy plants (1) Buy only plants that are healthy and green (2) Don’t buy plants with long stems (3) Don’t buy plants that are leaning out of their containers. (4) Don’t buy plants that nave yellow leaves or dried out stems. Don’t buy plants with curled brown damped off stems. (5) Don’t buy plants that are in containers of dry polling soil. (6) Buy only plants that have strong blue-green stems (7) If you buy four or six packs, make sure they have four or six plants in the pack.

THE HUMMING BIRDS ARE FLYING IN AND HUNGRY. As the month of April winds its way down, the hummers are finding their way to the feeders in search of nectar from the feeders. Many spring flowers have not yet reached bloom stage and they need a shot from the feeders. Hummingbird food can be purchased ready to use in quart and half gallon containers and it also can be purchased in powered form to be mixed with water or in liquid concentrate to be mixed with water. You can make your own food with a half and half mixture of sugar and water with a few drops of red food coloring.

MOVING PANDA AND ASPARAGUS FERNS TO PORCH FOR SUMMER Both these ferns have been wintering over in the living room and now they have been pruned back and are ready to spend the summer month on the porch. They will grow quickly and may have to be pruned back during mid-June.

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS April usually paves the way for the flowers of May not only because of April showers but the month itself usually brings its share of moisture. As April nears its e4nd we can get hanging baskets, pots and containers filled with flower potting mix and let them set outside to gather an April shower and moisten the potting mix. Annuals of summer can be planted now but will perform better if planted the first week of May when temperatures are warmer as well as nights.

THE BEAUTIFUL AND COLEUS OR JOSEPH’S COAT One flower that can now be planted in a large pot or container is the Coleus. We don’t know whether to call it a flower or a plant, even though as it seeds out, it has small lavender flowers. The coleus is known for its coat of varied colors such as white, yellow, purple, pink and burgundy which is “Joseph’s Coat”. In a large container, you can plant four of five different colors of coleus for an array of color.

RINSING OFF THE STICKY YELLOW POLLEN. The days of April bring plenty of pollen from the Maples and other trees as well as from grass and even weeds but right now it is mostly the Maples producing the bilk of pollen. Keep the hose handy and spray this dusty pollen from the deck, carport, and driveway. Rinse it from the car and wipe it from inside the door panels of your vehicles. Use window cleaner to wipe the dusty pollen from your car’s windshield and headlights. The pollen can even find its way under the hood of your automobile. Use a dry cleaning rag and some Gunk engine cleaner to wipe it from the motor.

ENJOYING THE FULL PINK MOON OF APRIL There will be a pretty full moon rising in the eastern sky just after sunset and it will have two names: “Full Pink Moon” and also Pascal or Passover Moon. Enjoy showing your children and grandchildren this moon which when it rises, may look “pinkish” as it absorbs the last beams of the setting sun.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at

Ray Baird