What to do in the garden in April
I vowed at the end of last year’s gardening season to get on top of things earlier the next year so here’s a
list of “stuff to do” in April before the garden really
• Put on at least a two inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure into your beds to prepare for the growing season. You can also work in a general purpose
• Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced,
slow release fertilizer like Osmocote. Lightly scrape the surface inch or two of soil and then water in the fertilizer. This is especially true of Roses which are greedy plants and will greatly benefit from feeding as they come into growth. If you have not trimmed your roses, also do
• Lift and divide perennial plants now to improve their vigor and to create new plants for your garden. Also divide hostas before they come into leaf. I have failed to do this for several years and now face the task of dividing over eighty different ones around my yard.
• Buy some packages of summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and Ranunculus and plant them into beds, borders and containers. If you have forced flower bulbs such as hyacinths and daffodils from Easter don’t toss them out! They can be planted out in the garden.
• Another area I often think of too late is seeing if I have any plants that will need supports. Put the supports in now so the plants grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is difficult and plants are often damaged in the effort. Similarly, tie in climbing and rambling roses to their supports as well as training emerging Clematis to grow on the trellis or support you’ve provided.
• Check any tree support ties to make sure they’re not cutting into the trunk. Loosen any that are tight to allow the trunk room to expand.
• If you haven’t done so already, finish cutting back any dead foliage left on your perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth. Also, prune Forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cutting back to strong young shoots. If you wait until summer, you’ll end up removing next year’s flowers.
• When all your spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips finish blooming, deadhead the flowers but leave the foliage intact allowing it to die back naturally.
• Apply Osmocote or another slow-release fertilizer around the base of your raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees to encourage bumper crops. Make sure you’ve pruned out old canes.
• Sow lawn seed now on well-raked soil and keep the soil covered and moist while the seed is germinating. If you want an instant lawn, lay new sod early and kept moist until established. Also, repair any bare patches in your lawn with seed rather than small pieces of sod which are hard to keep viable in the lawn. Apply Starter fertilizer to your lawn now for a boost to the start of the season. Though lower in nitrogen, Starter fertilizer is higher in the other components and they help in root and rhizome development for a thicker lawn.
• Check your compost bins to see if there is any compost ready to use. Use it to improve the drainage of heavy soils by incorporating into the top two or more inches. We rebuilt our retaining wall/raised beds last year so we’ve already topped them with compost and good quality topsoil.
• Finally, do a walk about and look out for signs of pests and diseases because early prevention is easier than curing an infestation. While you stroll about your garden, make sure bird baths and bird feeders are kept topped up to encourage birds to your garden. In addition to their beauty and songs, many species will also help minimize the pesky insects beginning to emerge.
12 Cremer’s Homemade Brats
2 or 3 Large Onions
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Slice onions into 1/2” thick slices, layer a baking dish with onions and place Cremer’s Homemade Lean Brats on bed of onions.
Pour enough water to cover onions.
Cover and bake for one hour.
Remove brats from oven and place on medium-hot grill until you have grill marks (5–10 minutes).
You can also chill brats and use them at a later time, throwing them on grill to heat through to an internal temp of 165° (10– 15 minutes).
Shirley Temple Mug
I purchased a Shirley Temple cobalt mug in a shop for $20. When I got it home it looked too new to be from the 1930s, so I took it back and was refused a refund. — Don, Salt Lake City, Utah
The market is flooded with fake Shirley Temple mugs, so buyers have to do their homework and educate themselves about reproductions and fakes. One tip-off concerning your transaction was the price. Most Shirley Temple mugs, authentic ones, sell in the $35-$50 range. Twenty dollars was a little too good to be true. When making a purchase, ask the dealer if a refund is possible if you decide you are unhappy with the merchandise. If he or she says no, walk away.
I have two framed prints, one identified as being a drawing of Richard Owen, 1804-1892, and the other Sir William Crookes, 1832-1919. Both are signed “Spy.” What are these prints, and are they worth anything? — Connie, Mesa, Arizona
Leslie Matthew Ward was a Victorian-era British portrait and caricaturist who signed his work “Spy.” He drew 1,325 cartoons for Vanity Fair magazine between 1873 and 1911. His autobiography, “Forty Years of Spy,” was published in 1915.
His work is, indeed, collectible. Typical prices are caricatures of Thomas Carlyle, $75; Horace Greeley, $75; Mark Twain, $300; and George Bernard Shaw, $150. Some of his more obscure personalities generally sell in the $35-$50 range.
One of the better collections of “Spy” prints is at the Philadelphia Print Shop Ltd., 8441 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118; and email@example.com. To check inventory and current prices, visit www.philaprintshop.com/vanfair.html.
I purchased a Victor Victrola at an auction that requires steel needles. My problem is that I can’t find any in my area. Can you help me? — Hubert, Sun City West, Arizona
The Needle Doctor has a cure for your problem with one of the largest inventories of needles and styluses in the country for both wind-up machines and phonographs of a more recent vintage. His steel needles come in packets of 25 for $6 plus postage. Contact is Brian at 6006 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, MN 55416; firstname.lastname@example.org; and 800-229-0644.
Write to Larry Cox in care of KFWS, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or send e-mail to email@example.com. Due to the large volume of mail he receives, Mr. Cox cannot personally answer all reader questions, nor does he do appraisals. Do not send any materials requiring return mail.
© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.
Caring for a Handicapped Pet
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: We have two dogs that we adopted from shelters: “Kylie,” a beautiful greyhound who is missing one front leg, and “Zu-zu,” a toy poodle, who is about age 16 and is almost completely blind.
I’m writing to let readers know that caring for pets with physical challenges can be expensive and challenging. They need to know what they’re in for before adopting a challenged dog.
We wouldn’t trade our two “kids” for the world. Kylie is quiet and very determined even though walking can be tough for her. Zu-zu is yappy and can get anxious when she’s home alone, but is loyal and loving.
Both have additional physical issues that require more trips to the vet, extra medicines, even special equipment. Their care can run over a thousand dollars a year, easily. We have pet insurance that covers their basic care and some of their medication, which helps quite a bit.
Please let your readers know to be aware of the challenge they take on when they adopt dogs with illnesses or handicaps.
— Karen H., Conway, New Hampshire
DEAR KAREN: You told them, and I thank you! Caring for challenged dogs can be incredibly rewarding, but also difficult. They can have both physical and emotional issues, particularly if they’ve experienced past trauma, neglect or abuse.
Before adopting a pet, ask plenty of questions of both shelter supervisors about a pet’s known past, its behaviors and what its treatment may cost. Talk to a vet ahead of time about the care and commitment that may be required. When you’re prepared to care for a challenged pet, you’ll be able to create a supportive home for them.
Send your questions or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.