Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Seven Spring Chores

As the weather warms, it's time to roll up the sleeves and start gardening. Here are seven spring chores to remember:
  • Catch up on any fall chores you forgot last year. Pull back the mulch and clean fallen leaves, broken branches and other debris in the garden. They often are home to pests and pathogens who overwintered there. Now's also a good time to scrub out pots, clean tools and organize garden sheds.
  • Feed soil with a couple inches of compost, aged manure, worm castings and other natural amendments. They improve the soil structure, add valuable nutrients and strengthen your plants' ability to grow -- to name just a few benefits.
  • Apply organic plant food to your garden beds, based on the individual plants' growing needs. Be sure to water well afterward. Remember a little goes a long way, so pay attention to recommended amounts. Over-fertilizing has killed many an innocent plant. For best results, consider having your soil tested by your local cooperative extension service for a nominal fee.
  • Dig up and divide perennials like asters, daylilies, hostas and other plants that have grown too big. As new growth begins to appear, dig up the plant and divide into sections with a sharp knife. Make sure divisions have several shoots and some of the root system. Then replant immediately and keep well watered. Share the extra plants with your friends and neighbors.
  • Prune perennials, ornamental grasses and summer-blooming shrubs now. Be sure to prune off any damaged or diseased stems or leaves. Don't prune your spring blooming shrubs until immediately after they bloom. But do prune before mid-July or you'll prune off next year's flowers.
  • Plan to irrigate your gardens. Troubleshoot sprinkler systems for potential problems. Check drip lines for leaks. Install drip irrigation systems. Clean out gutters. And give some of those plants a long drink, especially if you've had a dry winter.
  • Finish other chores. Order seeds. Make labels for new plants. Turn the compost pile and add fresh ingredients. Pull any early weeds from the garden. Make all the finishing touches to get your garden ready to grow.
That's one of the nice things about gardening. There's always something to keep you busy.

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