Finish Getting the Spring Garden Soils Ready

02/07/2013 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Tutorials

Plant Show Off Forsythia before they bloom for the best show this spring
Plant Show Off Forsythia before they bloom for the best show this spring

Soils thawed after the last few rains, it was time to prepare the gardens for the coming planting season. A fresh layer of manure and mulch, plant food and soil activator, with a blend of water holding polymers was turned to one shovels depth in my gardens this week. The soil was moist and very easy to work, you should do the same. Finish getting the spring garden soils ready.

Flower beds and the vegetable gardens now appear as a rich layers of chocolate made ready to absorb plants like a sponge. The first crop of lettuce, cabbage, arugula and broccoli will be planted in my gardens the end of this month. Pansies, daisy, stock, kale and primrose will follow as the first Forsythia celebrate the arrival of warm days. We are literally days away from the gardens awakening.

The rest of the pruning was completed this week, and under the perennial mums this springs foliage has started to emerge standing well over an inch tall. Daffodil, parsley, onions, herbal thyme all show sighs that spring arrives shortly.

Insiders tip – Red potatoes, sweet onion, Elephant garlic, rhubarb and asparagus have arrived at garden centers. We are a couple weeks from planting season, but buy your supply of bulbs, roots and divisions at your earliest convenience while stocks are fresh. The first of the vegetable supplies are very limited an become picked over as the season begins. Snap up the best of the supplies while they are fresh and store them in a cool garage until ready to plant. My garlic, parsley and onions plant last fall have already erupted from the soil as of this week. By they time your soil is turned these root crops can be plants. Bring on spring!

Feed plants before spring blooms
Feed plants before spring blooms

Next week my landscape gets a fresh meal of ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ 7-4-4. Putting organic foods on early is good for spring blooming lilac, forsythia, quince, fruit trees and the like. If it blooms in spring make sure to fertilize by the end of March for a better show. The buds on my cherries, apple and plum trees are huge right now and with a little extra nutrition your trees should really shine. Personally, I use the 7-4-4 blend of organic food on most plants in the landscape. The fruit trees, grapes and berries are hand delivered their own special meal tweaked just for them. For fruiting plants use the ‘Fruit & Berry Food’ 7.5-5-7.5 for a better harvest this spring. Go ahead, the landscape would appreciate some preliminary garden work done right now.

Finish cleaning up the landscape, cut back old perennials, pull the deal out of iris beds, shape grape vines and the rest. When the clean up is complete make sure to spray remaining plants with ‘All Season Spray Oil’. This is especially important for any plant that had bugs showing last year. This environmentally safe bug killer eliminate last years bugs wintering over in your yard, but more importantly it suffocates insect eggs laid last fall. This is especially important for fruit trees, roses and spring bloomers. I buy a couple quarts and shoot it through the hose end sprayer and spray liberally throughout the yard. This spray is much safer for pets, birds and people alike, but can only be used while temperatures are cool.

Show Off Forsythia is this weeks plant feature of the week. Loaded with huge buds it would be better to plant this showoff before it blooms. A definite upgrade to your grandmothers forsythia. This one remains tight and compact so no pruning is ever needed. An early spring blast of intense yellow flowers erupt from the ground. It is ‘fire wise’; with no pruning needed you can have that dream hedge without doing any of the pruning work. It keeps a smile on your face, because deer and javalina turn their nose up at the taste. This new variety shows off larger flowers that standout among the rest, but in limited availability because it is so new. Now is an ideal time to plant for a glowing spring show.

I specialize in bringing the migrating birds into local yards and my intention was to educate readers on the best feeder types filled with the right bird seed mixes to bring more birds into your yard this spring. As usually, much is going on in the gardens this week and I’m out column space this week. You are invited to this weeks free garden class taught by local birders Dawn Weir and Kelly Mattox.