Spring-flowering bulbs need to run a natural course as bloom-time nears an end

Chris Himmelwright
Pratt Tribune
Iris blooms have brighten many landscapes through April and may now be headed past their season of crowning glory. Best care allows them to run a natural course of decline.

As spring-flowering bulbs go through the flowering process, keep the followig three care tips in mind.
1. If practical, remove spent flowers with a scissors or a hand pruner. This allows the plant to conserve its energy for bloom the next year rather than using it to produce seed. 
2. Allow foliage to die naturally — it is needed to manufacture food that will be stored in the bulb and used for next year’s flowers. 
3. Don’t fertilize. The roots of these plants start to shut down after flowering. Fertilizer applied at this time is wasted. Instead, fertilize during the fall at the time bulbs are normally planted and again in the spring when new growth pokes out of the ground.
Fertilizing Cole Crops
Cole crops such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower planted earlier this spring that made it through our earlier cold snaps will need a little fertilizer boost. These plants need to mature before summer heat arrives, so they must grow quickly while the weather is cool. A sidedressing of fertilizer about 3 weeks after transplanting helps plants continue to grow rapidly.
Use fertilizers high in nitrogen for sidedressing such as nitrate of soda or blood meal at the rate of 1/3 cup per 10 feet of row. Lawn fertilizers with 30 percent nitrogen are good to at 30-3-4 or 29-5-4 but the rate should be cut in half to 3 tablespoons per 10 feet of row. Do not use lawn fertilizers that have weed killers or preventers. Fertilizer must be watered in if timely rains don't do that job for you.

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits, but gardeners often have problems with weed control. 

Strawberries form a mat of plants, which makes hoeing difficult. Gardeners must pull weeds by hand or use herbicides. Although there are no weed preventers available for homeowners to use on strawberries, Poast (sethoxydim), a grass-killing herbicide, can be used after weedy grasses have emerged. It can be sprayed directly over strawberries without harm but should not be applied within 7 days of harvest. 

You can find Poast in Fertilome Over the Top II, Hi-Yield Grass Killer and Monterey Grass Getter. 

Spring-bearing strawberry plants that were set out this spring should have blossoms pinched off. New plants have a limited amount of energy. If blossoms remain on the plants, energy that should go to runner development is used to mature fruit instead. Plants that are allowed to fruit will eventually produce runners, but those runners will not be strong enough to produce a good crop of berries the following year. 

For an adequate strawberry plant population and a good crop next year, early runner development is necessary. Early runners will produce far more strawberries than runners that form later in the season. 

Newly planted everbearing plants also should have fruits removed for the first 4 to 6 weeks after planting so they develop a strong root system.