While many Canadian gardeners are waiting for the long May weekend to get out and get their knees dirty in the garden, others are busy right now preparing for a successful gardening season.

Summer flowering bulbs like dahlias can be planted up now in gallon-sized pots and placed in a sunny window. These bulbs will grow early and help the gardener to enjoy blooms up to six weeks earlier than those dahlias that are planted directly into the soil in late May and early June.

There are many different kinds of dahlias available for sale at garden retailers this time of year from the pom pom's to the giant cactus flowering varieties.

Vegetable gardeners are preparing the soil for planting by adding generous quantities of compost and organic matter, as well as sharp sand to open up the soil and allow water to drain through it freely.

Vegetables that should be sown now include peas, snow peas (the edible podded variety), carrots, onions (such as spring, bunching, Spanish, etc.), leaf lettuce and mesclun. You can also plant all of the brassicas including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.

Remember that this is the perfect time to rake your lawn and to apply the first feeding of lawn fertilizer of the season. I use a quality product with SCU or "slow release nitrogen." Re-apply it in 8 to 10 weeks.

Mark Cullen