Whatever the weather, the average date of the last frost is Apr. 29. To be cautious about the investment in those tender annuals, wait until Mothers Day to plant. Give them time outside daily, to harden them to sun and weather conditions outside the greenhouse.

Basic gardening

Whatever the weather, the average date of the last frost is Apr. 29. To be cautious about the investment in those tender annuals, wait until Mothers Day to plant. Give them time outside daily, to harden them to sun and weather conditions outside the greenhouse.

Ornamental gardening

Before you plant, place starts and young perennials in a bucket of water for about an hour. Boosters can be added to the water and usually contain vitamin B1 and hormones.

Lilacs are easy to grow here in the valley and consequently we forget to give them basic TLC. After blooming, cut the flower plumes off before they set seed. Lilacs often throw up suckers from the root system. Prune out any spindly growth. The results are bigger and more blooms next year and a tidy and attractive base, perfect for underplanting with drought tolerant perennials like candy-tuft, or for setting containers with summer blooms.

Mulch around perennials and in garden beds before the heat of summer begins. Rather than using bark around trees, use a wood chip mulch. This mimics natural conditions and as it breaks down adds nutrients to the soil. It also eliminates a tree hazard: lawn watering.

Kitchen and Orchard

New to gardening? Here’s a list of the basic tools vegetable gardeners need:
• A shovel or spade for digging
• A steel rake for preparing beds
• A hand trowel for planting
• Stakes, twine and a measuring tape to set out plants or line up seed rows.
• For tiny seeds, a hand held sower will properly space seeds
• A loop or circle hoe helps weeding done close to the plant, disturbing only the weed’s root system.

Other tools that make it easier: A wheelbarrow, a kneeling pad and good garden gloves. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat; only plants make food from sunshine.

New beds should have lots of mulch and organic gardeners especially need to make sure they add an organic amendment containing mychorrizal fungi. Especially in the first year pay attention to fertilizing and watering routines. You are establishing living soil, as well as the plants that grow in it.

For a planting schedule, the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley: Year ‘round and month by month, by the Jackson County Master Gardener Association tells you what you need to know, including which varieties grow best in the Rogue Valley. Garden questions can be answered by the Master Gardeners at 776-7371.

Lawn care

With sprinkling systems on again and in order not to waste water, you should measure your sprinkler output. Put straight-sided flat-bottomed cans (tuna-type) around the lawn, and water for 30 minutes. Then measure the water depth and adjust your timing so lawns get 1 inch of water once a week for May and June. Extra watering may be needed in hotter weeks. Early morning is best for watering.

You may want to add water in increments if you have heavy clay soil, because it absorbs water quite slowly. More frequent watering is necessary for granitic soils, which drains and dries more quickly.

Opportunities

The Master Gardener’s 27th annual Spring Fair is May 2-3 at the Jackson County Expo & Fairgrounds, Central Point. It features vendors, demonstrations and the largest plant sale in the valley. Open 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. on Sat. and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sun. Admission $2.00. Proceeds fund Master Gardener educational programs. Call the extension Center at 776-7371.

North Mountain Park in Ashland is offering several classes interesting to gardeners:

Intro to Local Medicinal Plants: discover the bounty of medicinal plants found in our region on a plant walk. 10 a.m. to noon, May 17; fee $22.

Rainwater Harvest: learn about rainwater, its effects, how to harvest the rain, and how rainwater can be used. Everyone goes home with a rain barrel! Class held 5:30-&:30 p.m. May 26; fee $20.
Bio-intensive Composting will teach how to make bio-intensive compost efficiently and successfully, with a hands-on demonstration of making compost. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 30; fee $20.
North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N Mountain Ave, Ashland
541.488.6606 – www.northmountainpark.org or register online at http://ashlandparks.recware.com