By Ken Lain, The Mountain Gardener
Spring weather signals the start of specific gardening tasks essential to maintaining a vital, healthy garden. I’m a list type of gardener, and the following is my springtime procedural list in order of personal priority. Hope it helps you and your gardens.
#1 – Finish pruning everything in the yard, including roses, fruit trees, and summer-blooming shrubs. Then rake up old leaves, cut back dead growth on perennials, and remove leftover annuals and vegetables from gardens and containers. Link to Pruning Guide.
#2 – Apply Weed & Grass Stopper – This granular seed killer stops the worst of early spring foxtails, dandelions, and horehounds from emerging in rock lawns and flowerbeds. It must be applied before the weeds develop or it loses effectiveness.
#3 – Watch for aphids on willows, aspens, and apple trees. These pests are easily eliminated with a liquid ‘Triple Action’ application. All fruit trees should be sprayed before their spring bloom. Spray roses at the same time.
#4 – Feed everything in the landscape by the end of March. Feed everything, the lawn, flowerbeds, shrubs, trees, and all your gardens. The entire landscape should receive a generous dose of 7-4-4 ‘All Purpose Plant Food.’ To really bring out the color, fragrance, and health of your plants, apply ‘Soil Sulfur’ simultaneously. Keeping healthy plants fed is a complicated topic. Ask for my 4-step program for a better landscape the next time you visit.
Don’t forget your natives! The amount of moisture will produce a bumper crop of bark beetles that will seek out weak evergreens. A well-fed and healthy landscape can defend itself against these vicious forest invaders.
#5 – Top dress flower beds, shrubs, and trees with a 2″ layer of shredded cedar bark or composted mulch. This new layer of protection insulates the roots from the cold nights and drying spring winds ahead. This simple act also keeps weeds at bay and encourages better root formation.
#6 – Use my ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ 7-4-4 to nudge awake old lawns and jump-start new seedlings. March is the best month to start a new lawn or overseed an old one. For more detailed advice, ask for my “11 ½ Steps to New Lawns and Overseeding” handout.
#7 – Pine scale will make an unwelcome appearance in just a matter of days. Watch for signs and treat with my specially formulated ‘Plant Protector.‘ An Arborists is not needed to apply this easy-to-use bug solution. One application protects trees for the entire year. Besides those trees that are attacked by scale, I definitely recommend feeding stressed trees. Reading into the theme here?
# 8 – Amend your Gardens before planting. Turn a 2″ inch layer of composted mulch and deodorized manure at a 50/50 mix into your gardens. At the same time, turn Calcium Nitrate and organic 6-4-4-7 ‘Fruit and Vegetable Food’ into your garden’s soil to one shovel’s depth. You are now ready to plant spring flowers, herbs, and vegetables for a bumper harvest this year!
#9 – Go ahead and plant early spring flowers and vegetables as soon as the soil is prepped. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, and onions arrived at the garden center. Pansies, violas, dusty millers, English primroses, poppies, and early spring blooming perennials are ready to plant. These plants love the warm days and the chilly nights of early spring.
That’s the list. Indulge your garden with these minimal tasks, and you’ll find your spring flowers brighter, the evergreens greener, and your spring growth more exciting than ever.
Free Gardening Class every Saturday held at Watters Garden Center
March 5 @ 9:30 am: Spring To-Do List for Better Gardens
Finally, a To-Do list you’ll actually enjoy! This class discusses all the garden “P’s”: Preparation, Prevention, Protection, and Pruning.
March 12 @ 9:30 am: Watters 60th Spring Open House and the 2022 New Plant Introductions
Advanced gardeners and newcomers alike will learn about all-things-spring this weekend as we go geeky with plants.
March 19 @ 9:30 am: Evergreen Landscapes and Bark Beetles
This class covers not only the evergreens that grow most successfully but the simple steps to protect them from stress and environmental intruders like borers and bark beetle, and more.
March 26 @ 9:30 am: Proper Planting in Mountain Soils
We’ll take an in-depth look at how to be successful when planting your personal paradise. We’ll discuss techniques for brighter, more beautiful gardens and how to keep them healthy.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners here at Watters Garden Center.