The best of the garden and what to do now

This month is a good time to sow peppers in a heated propagator or on a windowsill indoors at a temperature of 21-27C (70-80F), to give them a head start for summer.

When large enough to handle, the seedlings can be pricked out and potted on to individual small pots to grow at 16-19C (60-65F). Harden them off carefully as peppers are extremely frost sensitive.

Greenland Gardener 8-Inch Raised Bed Double Garden Kit

They can be planted in an unheated greenhouse from late May to early June, or outside, preferably in a sheltered spot, in mid-June.

Water them in well after planting and then sparingly until they are starting to flower. Support them with canes and apply a liquid tomato feed once a week once the first flowers open.

Here’s what to do in the garden now

Sow under glass quick-growing perennials to flower this year

Begin to feed plants in established borders using a controlled-release slow-acting fertiliser, taking care not to get the liquid on to new foliage

Spray nectarine and peach trees to prevent or eradicate peach leaf curl disease

Cut back hedges before birds start to nest in them

Prune large-flowering clematis (group 3) including C. viticella and hybrids such as C. ‘Jackmannii’, taking stems back down to 25-45cm (10-18in) above ground level

Check if rain-sheltered trees, shrubs and climbers in containers are dry and, if so, water containers from time to time

Check seedlings growing indoors have plenty of natural light so they don’t become leggy

Cut back deciduous buddleias, lavatera, hary fuchsias and ceanothus, which produce their best show of flowers on wood made from spring onwards

If it’s not too wet or frosty, brush over lawn surface that has become covered in worm casts, using a besom or brush

Scoop out leaves, twigs and other debris from guttering on conservatories, greenhouses and garages

Answers to your gardening questions

When should I start planting seeds?

It depends what you want to plant. Right now you can plant peas, lettuce, spinach, onions – a lot of those cold season crops. Lots of greens. Don’t plant seeds that need a little more warmth – too early broccoli. Lowest Prices on Flower Bulbs, Perennials, House plants, Vegetable Plants, Seed and More!

I found some bulbs I forgot to plant – will they keep until next year?

Most of the spring blooming bulbs need a certain amount of time in the cold ground otherwise they don’t develop a flower. Unless we get a cold spring, they might not get any flowers. If you have a few, plant them, but if you have 12,000 of them, throw them away.

I usually prune my roses in mid-February but with the weather being so abnormally warm can I still prune now?

You probably can prune your roses now. But if we get a hard freeze, it could harm them if you prune this early. I usually wait until March 1 to prune mine.

What’s the safest item to get rid of moss in our lawn? We have a bunny and cats, so we don’t want to use chemicals.

Get a dethatching machine, pull the moss out first. Then you can buy hose end sprayer soap called Moss Out or something like that. You spray that on there, it’s real easy. But you got to get rid of the moss first, otherwise it doesn’t work. Moss is thick and it doesn’t penetrate down in there and it grows right back.

When is the best time to transplant a lipstick salvia?

I think do it right now. Make sure to water it in well in its new location.

How can I make my azalea big and pretty?

Feed your azaleas and rhododendrons with organic rhododendron food in early April every year.

How do you get rid of Spider Mites?

The best way to get rid of spider mites is to blast them with a powerful spray of water. Hold the foliage so you don’t blast it along with the mites. You have to do it frequently.

How do you prevent or get rid of powder mold on a zucchini plant? I have a community garden plot and powder mold has plagued my zucchini for two summers now. I sprayed he leaves with some organic oil recommended by Molbak’s and this helped delay it but eventually the mold took over. Until the mold takes over the zucchini plant is very productive.

Zucchini is highly susceptible to powdery mildew. Make sure you water adequately. Under watered plants are more susceptible to this disease. At first sign of problems, spray with a solution of 2 teaspoons baking soda and 4 drops of dish detergent in 1 quart of water.

How do you get tomatoes to grow well in this wet environment? We have tried and tried, rocks in the planter for drainage, fertilizer and so on. Should they just be put in the ground and let be?

The key to growing tomatoes in our climate is to plant them where they get a lot of sun and grow mostly cherry tomatoes. The one that always wins the blind taste test is called Sun Gold. I guarantee if you grow it in a sunny spot you will get a tons of delicious tomatoes.

How do you get rid of bamboo?

You can cut each stalk and paint it with Roundup herbicide or hire day laborers and have them dig it up. More of it may come up – be ready to dig those up when you see them.

My rock Daphnie is not doing well. It is blooming, but part of it is dying. What can i do to save it?

You’re not going to be able to save it. It’s got root rot. Buy a new one, but plant it in a spot with better sun and better drainage. And don’t water it too often.

We brought our 5′ lime tree inside for the winter…what kind of lighting, watering, and fertilizing is best? Also, any tips on keeping female dog urine from ruining our lawn? We keep reseeding and reseeding…unending saga. We have asked at nurseries and no one seems to have an answer and we are wondering if there actually is an answer.

On the lime tree, full sun, fertilize from March to September and water only when the plant begins to droop. No help on the dog – I have the same problem.

Please discuss moss-covered trees. Specifically maples. Should we attempt to remove some of the moss? The moss is so long, it hangs down like in the rain forest. We live in Pierce County.

Lichen and moss does no harm to your tree. If you spray it turns ugly black and then comes back. Best to just leave it alone and learn to love it. I think it’s pretty.

With this warm weather, when should I plant my Dahlias?

Wait until early May.

I am not having any luck growing heather- is there a trick?

Heather must have full sun and good drainage. It will not survive in shade or poorly drained soil.

What’s the best grass type for Western Washington?

The best grass type is 50/50 percent by weight of fine fescue and perennial rye.

How do I remove grass without using chemicals?

Try sheet mulching. You put down cardboard or a heavy cover of newspaper, making sure to overlap. Cover that with six inches of compost. The area where there had been lawn should be ready to plant in late September.

What is the best plants to grow for a beginner?

Try Evergreen Penstemon and Oriental Helleborus. And lettuce is easy too.

Can I grow ornamental cabbage alongside edible kale? I live in the South Sound?

Yes you can. Some people even eat ornamental cabbage, but I don’t think it really tastes that good.

When is the right time to plant Brussel Sprouts?

Plant your Brussel Sprouts in mid-April.

What’s the best apple tree for this side of the mountains?

The following apples are all good and are disease free: Akane, Liberty, Chehalis and Williams Pride.

How can I get rid of those pesky killing machines, called root borers? I’ve lost all of my roses, lavender and irises…!!

I’m not sure what kind of pest would kill all those different plants.