Saying goodbye to February and preparing to greet the month of March 2015 garden season!

Time speeds by and we are already on the verge of saying goodbye to February and preparing to greet the month of March.  The further the calendar moves toward spring, the more gardening and landscape projects get the green light and are ready to go.

This is a good time to finish pruning your trees, shrubs and rose bushes while they are without foliage and you can see clearly to prune and shape these plants before they leaf out for spring.  You can also prune your evergreens and broad leaf shrubs before they produce their burst of spring growth in April and May.  Most all trees and shrubs need periodic pruning and shaping for best results.  If you go to long without pruning, God provides storms, tornadoes and high winds to provide periodic pruning but these natural forces will not be as selective as you can be with a good saw, loppers and sharp snips.  The first goal of pruning is always to remove any dead or damaged wood, branches or shoots.  Then shape the tree or plant for balance, to avoid congestion on one side and too open on the other side of the tree canopy.  When pruning shrubs or evergreens we often trim them back for size, to keep them in proportion to your home, patio, sidewalks, or other parts of your landscape.  Do not prune spring flowering shrubs like forsythias and quince or trees like redbuds and crabapples until after they bloom or you will cheat yourself out of part of your spring flower festival.  Roses actually do best when their canes are pruned back to around twelve to sixteen inches tall and you thin out the dead, weak or spindly canes or stems.  This relatively hard pruning on roses will produce vibrant new growth when the roses leaf out this spring. 

We are right in the middle of the prime planting season for your cool season spring vegetables.  Plant seed potatoes, onion plants, onion sets, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, carrot, spinach, peas and turnips by Saint Patrick’s Day in mid March.  These are all easy to grow crops that will expose your family to the joys of gardening and raising your own tasty fresh foods.  You can also plant cool season crops that will produce nutritious and healthy berries and fruits for years to come like strawberries, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, and many types of dwarf or standard fruit trees.  Plant and raise your own apples, peaches, pears, plums and apricots. 

Some of the early spring flowering bulbs will be blooming soon as the crocus and daffodils announce that spring is at hand.  Shortly behind their beautiful flowers, the crabgrass and the warm season weeds will start germinating to frustrate your lawn and gardening efforts.  If you want to control your crabgrass and weeds before they germinate you need to apply a pre-emergent weed killer soon, before the redbud tree flowers are done.  There are many good pre-emergent weed killers but they must be applied and watered in before the seeds germinate for maximum effect.  There are herbicides you can apply as a liquid spray or as a granule that you spread across the lawn by itself or as part of a weed and feed product.  Make sure not to apply a pre-emergent where you plan to sow any seeds as the herbicide could affect the “good” seeds as well as “bad” seeds.  There are several pre-emergents you can even use in flowerbeds to reduce future weed problems as long as you are not planning to sow any seed in that area for the next eight to twelve weeks. 

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