Prepare your vegetable garden & flowerbeds!

Spring slowly inches closer with longer days, brighter sun and more warm days and our gardening opportunities expand every week.  Our lawns are ready for pre-emergent weed killers to prevent crabgrass, sandburs and other summer weeds from germinating and competing with our turf grass in the warm season months.  Apply the herbicides alone or with your first round of seasonal fertilizer as a weed and feed combination.  Timing is critical on this effort and should be done right now or before the redbuds come into full bloom for best results.

This is a great time to prepare your vegetable gardens and flowerbed for later plantings.  Till or work the soil, removing any intruding grass roots, adding organic matter like sphagnum peat moss, aged compost or fine bark to add humus to your soil.  This will acidify your soils, improve aeration and greatly increase water holding capacity.

This is the best time to prune roses and summer flowering shrubs and most of your other trees and shrubs before they produce their spring burst of new growth.  If you prune now that burst of spring growth will come from the buds just below where you prune.  Some plants like roses respond well to their canes being cut back hard to 8” to 14” tall while others like crape myrtle are often cut back hard but should be trimmed more lightly to shape them instead of harsh cut backs which will dramatically reduce your summer flower spectacular.

Do not prune spring flowering shrubs or trees like forsythia, quince, spirea, red buds, dogwood and azaleas until after they bloom as you will sacrifice all the flowers that are ready to pop on the old wood from prior growing seasons.  This is a great time to feed your trees and shrubs to fortify the roots and strengthen the plants before they burst into growth for the new season.  You can greatly reduce many pest problems on trees and shrubs later in the season by spraying dormant oil now to control galls, mites, overwintering aphids and other pests.  If you have had or want to prevent peach leaf curl on your peach trees spray them with a fungicide before the buds swell.

Food gardening is in full swing for all the cool season crops.  It is time to plant bareroot or container grown strawberries, grapes, blackberry, raspberry and blueberries to enjoy for years to come.  Plant seed potatoes, onion plants or onion sets, asparagus, rhubarb, or horseradish from now until St. Patrick’s Day or mid March.  Plant seeds of cool season leafy crops like leaf or head lettuce, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Swiss chard.  It is time to plant seeds of root crops like radish, carrots and turnips to harvest fresh produce from your yard for your dinner table.  Most of these seed crops can be grown in ground beds, decorative containers, fabric grow bags or even hay bales.  You can start seed of warm season vegetables like tomatoes or peppers inside now but don’t take them outside until mid April or after our last chance of freezing.

There are many things we can now do in the yard so pick a few to tackle and enjoy your times outside when we are blessed with pretty days.

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