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Live in the North? What You Should be Doing Now in Your Garden

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If you live in a part of the country where the bulbs are just starting to show their pretty heads and the ground is beginning to soak up the warm rays from the sun, it is time to start preparing your garden.

Here is the top list of things you should be doing to prepare your garden for spring!

Place your order for summer flowering bulbs and seeds

You may notice that in late winter and early spring, your mailbox begins to fill with beautiful garden magazines that are designed to get you pumped for the season to come. Now is the time to pick out some new summer-flowering bulbs and seeds, the perfect thing to do on a cool and windy spring day. Flowers like lilies, gladioli, and ranunculi can all be ordered in late winter or very early spring for spring planting.

Clean out debris and weeds from your beds

With spring just around the corner, it is likely that you see new growth on your perennials. Now is the time to break off the old growth from last year to make room for the new. Pull weeds while you are at it and remove old leaves and debris.

Choose a nice sunny day to freshen up your beds, and you will feel ready to welcome the new plants of spring. Be sure to put the dead organic matter that you have cleared away into your compost bin so that it can break down.

Seek out and destroy any pests

Now is the time to seek and destroy any hibernating pests that might become a problem. Look carefully at the crown of your perennial plants for slugs, snails, and aphid colonies that are just waking up from a long winter nap.

Set up rain barrels for water collection

Drag your rain barrels out of the shed, give them a good cleaning, and get them set up for water collection. If you don’t have a system for water collection, now is the time to install one. Not only is collecting and using rainfall an environmentally friendly way to irrigate plants, but it is also best for plants because it is slightly alkaline.

Clean and sharpen garden tools

Head to the shed or the garage and pull out your garden tools for a good cleaning. Keeping up on your tools will help prevent diseases from spreading and will save you time and money in the long run. Use a very strong detergent and hot water to clean all bladed tools. Sharpen tools to improve efficiency. Add some oil or WD40 to the blades and hinges of clean and sharpened tools.

Fix fences, gates, and trellises

Because most of your time will soon be spent on planting and caring for your garden and home landscape, now is a good time to work on infrastructure projects like fences, gates, and trellises.

Get your soil ready

Once the days are a bit warmer, you should begin to work compost and organic material into your garden soil. After you clean your beds, work new organic material down about 8-12 inches, being careful not to disturb existing perennials. If you have a raised garden bed, you can prepare the soil and place a black piece of plastic over the top to warm up the soil more quickly. This means that you will be able to plant a couple of weeks sooner than most people – especially if you live in an area that gets bright and hot spring sun.

Pruning

If you haven’t yet done so, now is the time to do some final pruning of your shrubs and trees. Pruning will encourage new and healthy growth and shape plants to the desired size for your garden. Just be sure that you use clean pruners.

Planting

As true spring comes closer, you can begin to plant a few things in your garden. These are plants that tolerate cooler temperatures and will add color and interest to your early spring garden.

  • Pansies
  • Lilac
  • Snapdragons
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach

Just be sure to avoid planting any warm-season plants until the threat of frost for your area is gone and the nights have warmed up.

Clean out pots for planting

Any pots that you have from last year will need to be cleaned out before you can plant in them. This includes old soil that may harbor bacteria. Dump the old stuff out and use a solution with detergent and a couple of drops of bleach along with warm water to clean your pots and get them ready for the season.

What about it, are you getting the gardening itch? I am!

Happy Growing,

Susan, CBHC and Master Gardener

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