Spring brings new round of garden chores

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

By Randy Moore

It is officially spring, thanks to the Vernal equinox, although with the weather of this past winter it has seemed like spring for awhile now. What to do now?

Hopefully your pruning is done; if not, hurry up, as you still have time to prune your boxwoods, Beauty berries, Arborvitae, Butterfly bush, Camellia (sasanqua), Vitex, cherrylaural, Clethra, Crape myrtle, Redtwig dogwood, Euonymus(deciduous and evergreen), Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Althea, Summer blooming Hydrangeas, Juniper, Nandina, Pittosporum, Privet, Roses, Sumac, and yew shrubs.

With spring comes all of the chores of getting the garden and vegetable beds cleaned of winter debris to let the soil warm up. Rake the leaves and old mulch away from herbaceous perennials (the ones that die back in winter), perennials, shrubs and trees. Now is a good time to fertilize your shrubs and trees if you didn’t do that when you pruned them.

Now is also a good time to get those seeds started for your vegetable, perennial and annual beds. I like to start all or most of my vegetables from seeds, and with all of the catalogs it has been hard to pick seeds this year. We are going heirloom this year; I will keep you posted on how that goes.

The Peppers (jalapeno), bushel gourds, eggplant, cucumbers, squash and hyacinth beans have all been started from seeds, and the wait begins to see how many will come up. Last year I took cuttings from my tomato plants, rooted them and grew them in the greenhouse this winter. I managed to get eight tomatoes, so I have taken cuttings from them and am rooting them again to go in the garden along with the four mother plants. The peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, turnips, corn and potatoes are all planted in the newly renovated garden beds. I decided to create permanent garden beds this year, so I created 17 10-foot-by-4- foot raised beds.

If you are brave and are going to put out tender plants in the garden now, just remember our last frost date for this area is April 15. Be prepared to take precautions like having pots or row covers ready to cover them up just in case we do get a late frost. You also should have a plan to cover your fruit trees as ours are either in bloom or getting ready to bloom. We cover ours with tarps, blankets and pretty much anything else we can find to prevent damage.

Note of caution: Do not use clear plastic for covering your plants, as they can get too hot in the morning sun and cause more damage than the frost. If for some reason your plants do get covered in frost, all is not lost. You can in the early morning (I mean really early, before the sun comes up) go out and spray your plants with water to remove the frost, and your plants should survive just fine.

Happy spring and happy gardening.