SPRING IS ON ITS WAY - Time To Get To Work
Spring is on its way… We have enjoyed a rather mild winter here in Sequim. The famous Sequim rain shadow combined with the effects of a La nina weather cycle have left us rather dry and in the mid 30 – mid 50 degree tempeture range. While it’s not quite shirt sleeve weather yet, we will take it.
It may seem improbable in some parts of the country that the snow and ice of this winter will ever give way to the warm days ahead. However we have it on good authority that the sun will indeed warm the soil and begin the growing cycle all over again. Before all of that takes place, it’s time to give your Lavender plants a little attention. So it’s time to get outside, even if the weather is not great.
Before Spring gets here it is a good idea to take a walk around and check your lavender plants for damage or the potential for damage that will lead to a disappointing bloom and production cycle this year. With that in mind we recommend the following steps:
Plants blanketed in heavy or frozen snow, should have the snow removed as much as possible. In the short term a light blanket of snow covering the plant will help insulate and protect the plant against extreme freezing temperatures and we are talking only a day or so. However extended periods of heavy snow covering and weighing down the plant will take a toll on your plant, likely breaking tender wood, setting the plant up a dismal performance during the bloom cycle. Heavy snow also pushes or spreads the plant apart contributing to open spots and that dreaded woody appearance. So clear that snow if it’s going to stick around awhile.
Always remember Rule number 1 – “Lavender loves well drained soil”. Take a look around your plants and clean up any accumulation of leaves and debris around the base and on the plant itself. Soggy wet leaves and other debris hold moisture in the core area of the plant. Additionally if you forgot to remove all of that stem material from your plants last fall, don’t wait. Stems are cellular and contain the imbibed fluids (natural sugar and oil) necessary to sustain and protect the plant during the summer bloom cycle. When the bloom is over and the stem dies back, it dries out and becomes a sponge soaking up rain and moisture from the air. The stems are now no longer strong enough to support the weight of the water which is heavier than the oil and sugar once contained in the living stem. There is no place for all of this material to go but directly onto the plant. No matter how well your soil is draining it can’t overcome the saturation coming from the wet leaves and stem material laying on the plant. If this is your case then “Root Rot” is in your plants future. While it can be treated like most things its best to not have to. Get rid of the leaves and stems to allow air circulation to wick moisture away from the soil and the plant naturally. While you’re at it make sure that surrounding plants are not laying or covering your lavender. Yes even our plants need a little attention.
Before it begins to warm up, there are a few other things to do.... Take a good look at your garden tools. We are admittedly hard on our tools around here. They don't often see a lot of tender loving care, in fact it often borders on abuse. If that's the case with your tools then now is a good time to change your (our) ways. There is nothing more frustrating than heading out to the garden with tools that are not up to the job. Buy quality and it will last more than one or two seasons.
With as much lavender as we have to trim, our tool of choice is a power hedge trimmer. If you only have a few plants to keep trimmed up, hand powered hedge trimmers will do the job nicely as long as they are sharp. Dull trimmers tear, bruise, and smash the plant rather than make clean cuts. As a result the damage to soft tissue will slow any new growth as the plant struggles to overcome what has been inflicted by the dull edge of your trimmer. Take a fine file or a wet stone to the edge of your trimmer to put a sharp edge back on the cutting surface. If this is something outside of your comfort zone than take it to a sharpening shop. Buying a new pair of trimmers will not guarantee a sharp edge so check your trimmer over before you use it. Next make sure that you wipe down your cutting edge with a little denatured alcohol to insure that no residue is left on the cutting surface before you begin the trimming.
Lavender trimmed last fall is already showing signs of new growth. This is why we like to trim in the fall, photo taken on 26th of February 2010. Early trimming sets the plant up for success and has greatly increased our harvest. Plants trimmed or shaped in this manner will not end up looking like a plam tree or spread open and woody. So when spring finally makes it to you, then its still not to late to get out there and trim that lavender.
There Is A Real Difference - Come Experience It