Monday, 5 February 2018

Early Preparations for Spring Gardening


Eartheasy offers great information about sustainable living and gardening.  The following excerpts are from their website and offer great gardening ideas for early spring. 

        
Vegtables and Flowers  


(1) Plant early spring vegetables when soil is workable.

Soil is ready for gardening once it is free of ice crystals and crumbles easily. Soil that is too wet is easily compacted, reducing beneficial soil aeration. Common early spring crops are peas, spinach, lettuces and leeks. For a prolonged harvest, plant several varieties, each with a different maturation date. Follow these crops with broccoli, cabbage, radishes, kale, turnips, new potatoes and onions. Mulch early bulbs if you live in areas where freezing temperatures hang on.

(2) Protect seedlings from hard frosts.

Early spring plantings are vulnerable to hard frost which can set in overnight. If you expect a hard frost, cover seedlings overnight with anything you have on hand - an overturned bucket or cardboard box (with a rock on top) or large flower pot, a portable garden cloche, or a cold frame. If your garden has the space, and your budget allows, a starter greenhouse is ideal for starting seedlings early in the season and protecting them from inconsistent early spring weather.

(3)  Plant out daffodils, lilies, crocus, hyacinth and any other bulbs,

Early spring is the time to set out bulbs which were forced in pots or bowls in the house. Some may bloom next spring, others may take two or three years to rebuild enough food reserve to support flowering.

(4) Divide perennials. clear and mulch perennial beds.

For easier handling try to time the division so emerging shoots are only 2 to 4 inches tall. Prepare new beds for perennial flowers by spreading a 6-inch deep layer of organic matter (i.e. peat moss, compost, rotted manure) and work in deeply. Plants growing in deep, rich soil are less likely to suffer from summer drought. Existing perennial beds can be cleared of old plant debris and mulched to prevent weed growth. Mulch should be applied around, but not over the sprouting root mass of each plant.

Stakes can also be put in the ground now for sprouting perennials such as asparagrus, which may need support for it's tall ferns later in the season in gardens exposed to wind. Be sure to set the stakes well clear of the root mass so as not to disturb emerging shoots.

 Shrubs and trees

(1)   Prune out dead or damaged branches

Prune unwanted branches of trees and shrubs after new growth has begun. Cut back any remaining dead perennial foliage from last season. Prune roses just before they start to bud out. Spring blooming trees and shrubs, however, should not be pruned in late winter; their flower buds are ready to open as temperatures warm. Azaleas, forsythia, weigela, dogwood, and other spring shrubs can be pruned.

(2) Prune fruit trees.

Fruit tree pruning is best done in late winter or early spring. Prune well before buds begin to break into bloom or the tree may be stressed resulting in a reduced crop. Pick up and remove the pruned clippings, especially if you intend to cut the grass under the tree during summer.

(3) Remove stakes or relax wires installed on trees planted last fall.

Allowing a little swaying of tree stems results in sturdy yet resilient plants. Thin out some branches of trees which have a history of leaf spot diseases. Pruning will improve air circulation and penetration of sunlight, which in turn can reduce the incidence of disease. Remove tree guards or burlap wraps from the trunks of young trees or shrubs. This prevents moisture buildup beneath the wrap, which can encourage rot and promote entry of diseases.

(3) Transplant any existing shrubs you want to move before they begin to leaf out.

Soil conditions in early spring are favorable to transplants because the soil is more consistently moist, which helps new rooting to expand from the transplant zone and reach out for more nutrients. To transplant, use a spade to find the edges of the main root mass, then dig down and under to loosen the root ball. Dig the new hole several inches wider all around, and add soil amendments such as compost or organic fertilizer. Once the transplant is set in place, filling in around the sides with lightly compacted soil will promote lateral root growth.



(4) Apply horticultural oil sprays to pear and apple trees.

Apply oil spray to pears just as the buds begin to swell and then again 10 days later to control pear psylla and pear leaf blister mite. Make a single application of oil on apple trees when a half-inch of green tissue is visible in developing buds.



(5)  Also apply oil to ornamental trees and shrubs

Apply dormant oil to trees and shrubs which have a history of aphid, scale or spider mite infestations. Destroying these pests safely with spring applications of horticultural oil will reduce your need for pesticides later in the growing season.



(6) Inspect your pole pruner before using

Before setting foot on the orchard ladder take a few minutes to inspect the head of the pruner and the cord. If there is a failure of any parts while you are pruning, it could send you for a tumble. Read our article Pre-Season Pole Pruner Checklist.

More information like this can be found at the Eartheasy website: https://eartheasy.com/






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