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Gardening & More: The Western New York weather might be warming up, but is it dry enough to work outside in the garden?

DAISY, DAISY — Osteospermum daisy, or the African daisy, is an annual that can be planted now, if your garden is not too wet. Other cool weather plants include peas and lettuce. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko.
We have finally gotten some warmer temperatures, so gardeners all over the Southtowns are eager to break out their green thumbs.

While there are plants and seeds that you can plant outside in the cool, spring temperatures that we are experiencing now, there may be one glitch: Your gardens might still be too wet to dig in.

How do you know when your soil is dry enough? Teresa Buchanan, general manager of Lockwood’s Greenhouses in Hamburg, offered up some tips.

Scoop up some soil and squeeze it in your hand. If it clumps up into a glob, your soil is too wet to work with. If it is crumbly, it is dry enough.

If you try to work in your garden – or even walk around in it – when it is too wet, it will be “easy to damage the soil structure and cause compaction; not a good thing,” Buchanan said.

Compacted soil will not drain well. Plus, it makes it pretty difficult for roots to penetrate. Walking around in your garden can cause compaction, so if you want to pull weeds, try to stay on the sidewalk or on pathways.

Set a board down, where you want to walk, which will distribute your weight and help prevent soil compaction.

If your garden beds are still too wet to plant, try planting spring annuals and perennials in a container, as suggested by Mark Yadon, the vice president of Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, located at 118 S. Forest Road in Williamsville.

Pansies have been available for a few weeks. Here are a few more flowers that are able to be planted now.

– Calibrachoa “million bells’ is a popular annual, because it is showy and should perform well, all summer.

– Diascia is an annual with a small, delicate flower that comes in a variety of colors.

– Osteospermum daisy, or African daisy, is grown as an annual in Western New York, and is another showy flower.

– Creeping jenny, also known as lysimachia or golden money wort, is popular in container plantings for its yellow foliage that can trail over the side of the pot.

That plant is a perennial, so when the soil dries out, you can plant it as a ground cover in your garden bed. Other perennial ground covers include lamium and sedums. Also, look for ornamental grasses.

Buchanan said that you can plant cool-weather vegetables such as peas, lettuce and spinach, from seed in your garden beds, as soon as the soil is dry enough.

Other vegetables that can be planted before Memorial Day include kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These plants will be available at Lockwood’s.

Other tasks you can do now include general cleanup, such as picking up sticks and raking away those dead leaves from last year.

If you left the stems of perennials like black-eyed Susan in place during the winter, to feed the birds and add winter interest, go ahead and cut those down.

Be careful when you try to work in your garden in the springtime. Make sure the soil is not too wet.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of
Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.
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