Memorial Day Weekend is here. But the gardeners among us are casting an anxious look at the sky, or at least at the weather forecast, in hopes that it will be a good weekend to get gardens going and yardwork done.

While typical gardening and planting is a bit delayed this year, garden contributor Melinda Myers offers some suggestions about what you might want to take on during one of the busiest and maybe most important gardening weekends of the year:



1. Install floating row covers: Cold weather stresses plants and delays your harvest, but Myers says even with decent weather she will give a little extra protection to her plants to speed up the harvest. "[Floating row covers] trap the heat, so if we have cold nights like we've been having in the 40s, it won't kill your plants." The covers let air, light and water through - but just remember to remove it when plants need to be pollinated or grow too big.

2. Gradually introduce plants from a greenhouse to the outdoor environment: The first day, put plants in an hour of direct sun, and increase the time each following day. Let the soil go slightly dryer and don't fertilize until you transplant your plants in the ground.  "That extra effort really helps make the transplanting a success, and your garden a bigger success as well," notes Myers.

3. Have healthy soil: Soil is the foundation of a healthy garden according to Myers, "so wait until it's moist - but not soggy wet [to plant]. And that's going to be the tough thing if you have heavy clay soil, with all the rain we're having, patience is going to be something you're gonna need." To test your soil's readiness, take a handful of soil, gently squeeze into a ball, and if it breaks into pieces with a flick of the finger - it's ready to be worked.

4. Fertilze: Generally a low nitrogen soil release fertilizer like Milorganite with allow slow, steady growth and is less susceptible to insect and disease problems, "and you'll still get flowers and fruit," notes Myers.

5. Add organic matter: Everything from organic mulch, shredded leaves, grass clippings not treated with weed killers, and evergreen needles can be used on the soil surface after planting. "It conserves moisture, you water less often, it also helps suppress weeds ... and the other benefit as it breaks down - it improves the soil, so those worms are going to be happy."

A cool, damp spring can seem troublesome for gardeners. But with the right kind of plants and gardening techniques, the weather can not only improve your garden, it can improve water quality. 

Lake Effect contributor Melinda Myers is the author of numerous books on gardening, including The Midwest Gardener's Handbook and Month-by-Month Gardening in Wisconsin. She explains how you can create your own rain garden. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects hundreds of thousands of veterans nationwide. Many find ways to cope through counseling and support services, but some are finding volunteering to be a useful tool in further healing. 

William Sims knows this first-hand. He's a Vietnam combat veteran and says he had, what would now be classified as, PTSD symptoms when he returned from battle.

The Wisconsin State Fair is in full swing, and horticulturist extraordinaire Melinda Myers spends more time at the Wisconsin-centric celebration than most. The renowned gardener talks with Lake Effect’s Mitch Teich about what kind of gardening questions she expects to hear from this year’s fairgoers:

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