Spring Gardening Tips: Seasonal Gardening Tasks Made Simple
From seed starting to checking tools, spring gardening starts with preparation. Whether its flower gardening or vegetable gardening, preparation is key for a blooming success.
Spring Gardening Tips: Early Spring Preparation
Depending on the location’s gardening zone, early spring may begin as soon as February or as late as April. Regardless of the zone, these gardening tasks should be tackled first before the crocus bloom.
- Check tools for rust and get pruners and saws sharpened.
- Start up power tools; read the user’s manual for routine service of tools such as lawn mowers and edgers.
- Purchase garden seeds and seed starting equipment.
- Set up indoor seed starting lights.
- Start seeds that require 8 to 12 weeks indoors before transplanting to the garden.
- Cut back ornamental grass and clean up perennials that were left in the garden in the fall.
- Prune evergreens, fruit trees.
- Check with the local County Cooperative Extension Office for the right time to spray fruit trees, and if recommended, spray appropriate sprays before blossoms appear.
- Paint lawn furniture, garden ornaments and garden furniture now.
Gardening Tips: Middle Spring
Once spring gardening season begins, it feels as if one can never get caught up on all the gardening tasks at hand. By middle spring, tackle the following gardening tasks:
- Add compost to vegetable garden beds and flower garden beds. Turn it into the soil, mixing it in well. Never use fresh manure; always allow manure to age or mix into the compost pile before using it in the garden soil.
- Have soil tested and have the Cooperative Extension or garden center recommend amendments, depending upon the purpose for the garden bed and which plants will be included. Each plant has different soil requirements.
- Plant cold-hardy vegetables now: onions, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, radishes, kale.
- Plant early spring flowers such as pansies, snapdragons and dianthus.
- Plant shrubs now to allow enough time to let the roots establish.
Gardening Tips for Late Spring: The Garden is Underway
Late spring typically heralds the arrival of the frost free date, or the average annual date when the last frost occurs. Tender vegetables and most annual flowers may be planted outside after this date. For most gardens, this is sometime in May. Wait until the maple trees have tiny leaves to be on the safe side. That’s usually a good indication that the weather is warm enough to plant annuals and tender vegetables and herbs.
- Tasks for the late spring garden include:
- Plant annual flowers, including impatiens, petunias and all directly sown flower seeds.
- Plant tomatoes, peppers and tender vegetables.
- Plant strawberries and small fruit bushes, such as blueberry and raspberries.
- Plant herbs: basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, thyme and others.
- Plant window boxes and planters now.
- Add mulch around landscaping shrubs and in garden beds to retain moisture.
- Turn on outdoor sprinklers and hook up hoses.
- Place concrete statues and terra cotta pots back into the garden.
What Not to Do in the Spring Garden
Sometimes gardening is as much about what not to do as what to do! Many gardeners are tempted to cut off the leaves of tulips and daffodils to neaten the plants up before planting spring annuals. Bulbs need their green leaves to create food for next year’s flower. Let the foliage die back naturally. If it looks unsightly, use the Dutch method of braiding the leaves of daffodils. Braid the slender stalks together and tie with twine or use a rubber band to fold them over and make the garden beds look tidy.
Wait to mow the lawn until the grass is fairly long, and leave the grass blades as long as you can. This not only helps the lawn retain moisture, it naturally suppresses weeds.
Lastly, although it’s tempting to add fresh manure to garden beds, this is harmful. Fresh manures such as cow or horse manure are high in nitrogen and other materials and can literally burn the plants. In addition, the heat during composting kills bacteria such as E. coli; without that heat, in fresh manures such bacteria can get onto edible plants in the vegetable garden. Always let manures compost.
This spring, get off to a blooming success using a handy spring gardening checklist. Get a head start on garden tasks now and during the summer, enjoy the beauty of the labor