for Spring Tips
a list of what you'd really like to see in your garden and stick
to it. There's no use growing winter cabbage, regardless of how
lovely it looks in the frost, if you don't eat cabbage. A list
will keep you under control when you see the sales and are
tempted to purchase on a whim. In addition, if you plan
exactly where plants are going to go, you won't make mistakes
such as placing sun loving plants in the shade.
for containers and equipment by re-using items you already have
at home. Margarine tubs, yogurt and cottage cheese containers
and egg cartons are fantastic for seed starting. Old gardening
boots, wheelbarrows, and toolboxes can make whimsical
substitutes for expensive outdoor containers. Window frames can
be converted into cold frames and plastic milk jugs and pop
bottles can be used to make a mini greenhouses or hot caps.
seed when you can: One
packet of tomato seed is often equivalent to the price of one
tomato seedling yet you get the potential of at least 30-40
plants in each packet. While it may take longer and require
advance planning, starting the majority of your plants
from seed can be a big savings. No need for expensive
heat mats - the top of the VCR or water heater is ideal. Indoors,
fluorescent tubes make a suitable substitute for expensive grow
lights and can be rigged up under a table or on a shelf in the
Don't forget to try to save
your own seed during the season. Not only will you save
on the seed purchase the following year, but you'll also be able
to select seed from plants that you know did well in your
climate. Make sure that you save seed from non-hybrid
keep on giving:
In the vegetable garden,
climbing peas, tomatoes, beans and squash tend to provide more
produce than their bush equivalents. If you're limited in space,
growing these plants vertically can be very successful. In
addition, plants like zucchini are notorious for their yields.
Trade with neighbors for food you didn't grow.
Among the flowers, try growing
multi-purpose plants to get more bang for your buck. Many
flowers like bachelor's buttons, violas, calendula, pansies, and
roses are edible as well
as beautiful. Yarrow, alyssum, fennel, cumin, and coriander all
attract beneficial insects as well.
Share ideas and costs with a gardening buddy and make it cheaper
for both of you. Few of us require a whole packet of seed for
the gardening season, so split the packet with a friend or else
trade seed for a variety you didn't buy.
A gardening buddy is also a great
person to share tools with. If you've got a fantastic hoe and
your friend has an excellent pitchfork, why double up?
Sharing with a gardening partner
will also allow you to purchase garden needs in bulk. If you
require potting mix, why not go for the bale size instead of the
Compost, if you can't make your
own, is much cheaper if purchased by the yard and shared with a
friend or two.
Joining a garden club is a great
way to meet gardening enthusiasts if no friends or family are
willing to team up with you. Most clubs also hold plant
exchanges or sales where you can get plants for a real
Online garden clubs like Our
Garden Gang are excellent for sharing growing tips with
experts in different fields!
Get Ready for Spring
February is often the
wettest or snowiest month. We can be lazy in the garden and just watch
the bulbs begin to show their heads and the new growth emerge. Crocus,
daffodils, anemones, Dutch iris and plum trees begin to brighten our
yards with their vibrant colors towards the end of the month. March
and April herald the beginning of spring and it's time for gardeners to
get busy. As flowering shrubs begin to bud, prune a few branches and
bring indoors to force them for bloom.
Here are the major activities to begin now:
can kill your tender plants purchased early, so watch out for clear,
still nights and protect your plants with sheets, tarps, cardboard
boxes or plastic. Don't touch the leaves.
over wintered indoors can be PRUNED and the cuttings given to a
friend or planted elsewhere for color later in the season.
for summer planting should be purchased now before there are none
left in the stores. Don't plant them, though, until next
month. You can start begonias, dahlias,
gladiolus, watsonia, and callas indoors now for planting out later.
ROOT TREES AND ROSES can soon
been planted. Get into your garden center to select
roses early, while there is still a good supply. See what's
safe to plant early, below.
houseplants this month and
they'll have a great spring growth.
to see if you need an additional dormant spray on deciduous plants
and roses. Only spray if they have not begun to bud or they could be
your oak trees if you have them for oak moth larvae. If you notice
large masses of green droppings on the ground, call in the
professionals. For a smaller tree spray thoroughly with Bacillus
thuringiensis, orthene, or carbaryl.
will soon be ready to be
mowed regularly in most zones. Feed with high-nitrogen fertilizer.
If weather is dry, seed or sod new lawns. Pull any weeds, making
sure to get the roots. To control crabgrass and broad-leafed weeds,
spray paying careful attention to the labels.
PREPARATION is important for all new flower and vegetable gardens.
Spade and till, adding organic soil amendments and compost from your
pile. Work in a dry complete fertilizer.
is still important for all your grass clippings and spring prunings.
Don't forget to add some fertilizer and keep moist for speedier
such as day lilies, agapanthus, yarrow, and phlox need to be divided
while they are semi-dormant. Replant healthy pieces after division.
This is the best time to feed all plants including fruit trees,
annuals, roses, and shrubs. Mature trees need their nitrogen
booster. Wait to fertilize rhododendrons and camellias with an acid
fertilizer until next month and then when they are finished
blooming. Don't forget to give food to your potted plants as well.
important before new growth starts. Now is the time to apply
dormant sprays. For all the new growth that attract the creepy
crawlies, in early spring - wash them off with a hose or use a spray
gun with a little household detergent. Keep your vigilance on
baiting or picking slugs, snails and earwigs - controlling them
early reduces summer damage. Be ready with netting to keep birds
and small animals from eating your plants.
to conserve moisture unless rains have been extremely heavy.
planting time is near in most zones for potatoes, herbs, beets, peas
and carrots, and eggplant (start indoors). Still time for broccoli,
cabbage and cauliflower. Warm season vegetables such as tomatoes,
peppers, cucumbers and squash can
be planted later. See what's safe to plant
now, (and later), below.
summer and fall-blooming
shrubs, pelargoniums and geraniums for fuller summer blooms.
that are Safe to Plant Now
crowns can go into the ground as soon as the soil is
workable--thawed and not wet. Since they're planted six to eight
inches deep, they'll be insulated from a late freeze.||
bare-root plants can save you a bundle of money. This forsythia
sold for only $8 as a bare-root plant but would have cost far more
as a five-gallon container plant in full leaf.|
that are Safe to Plant Early
speaking, there are many things you can consider planting roughly
six weeks before the last average frost date in your area. You'll
want to get these crops going as soon as the soil can be worked:
are one of the first crops to go in the ground. Because they
are planted four inches deep, they are well-insulated from
cold temperatures. Potatoes can also be planted above the
ground and covered with a 12-inch layer of hay or straw, which
also makes an effective insulator. Your potatoes may be
damaged if the foliage begins to emerge and you experience a
sudden freeze, but the damage is usually minimal and the
plants ordinarily recover nicely.
crowns can also go in the ground early--assuming the soil
isn't frozen or soaking wet, because they are also planted
fairly deeply. Dormant rhubarb roots and garlic are also
planted deep and thus are insulated from cold temperatures.
actually benefit from early planting because they love cool
weather. The same is true of spinach, radishes, turnips and
You can also
plant deciduous trees and shrubs--whether container-grown or bare
root. Buying plants in bare-root form can save you a lot of
money--whether from area nurseries, catalogs or Internet sources.
When planting evergreen trees and shrubs in late winter, make sure
they get enough moisture to prevent them from drying out on cold
these a little later
When you go to
the nursery to buy early-season crops, you'll likely find all
sorts of other crops available; however, most of them shouldn't be
planted early in the season. The advantage of waiting is twofold:
it increases the chances of crop survival, and it spreads out over
a period of several weeks the amount of work that has to be done
at planting time.
most cases, you should wait another week or two before
planting onions from seeds, sets or transplants.
wait a week or two after early planting before setting out
cole-crop transplants such as cabbage, cauliflower, and
lettuce is grown from seed and can tolerate cool temperatures,
it doesn't handle freezes well, so sowing should be stalled
for two weeks after early planting just to be on the safe
at least another month before planting culinary herbs.
these much later:
vegetable such as tomatoes, eggplant, squash, beans, peppers,
melons and cucumbers, whether from seed or transplants,
should be planted much later. The seeds will rot in cold
ground, and the transplants won't survive temperatures below
45. You can start these warm season plants indoors 6-8 weeks
before safe planting-out time in your zone.
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