Early Spring 2010 Gardening Article: "Can Spring Be Far Behind?" By Joan G. Hauser
CAN SPRING BE FAR BEHIND?
As we look out at our snowy yards, it begins to seem as if spring will never come. Ever a believer in the ďglass half fullĒ, I try to think that of these storms as winterís last weakened gasp. Soon the world will turn green again. Iím sure it will. Here are a few things to do this month to keep spring in your mind.
Your gardenís a skeleton without the usual greenery to camouflage bad spots. Itís a perfect time for you to make a to-do map. Begin by laying out all the major features of your yard on graph paper. Include buildings, fences, gates, pathways, and decks. Remember to keep everything on your map proportionate so that all sizes are relative. On the first nice day, go outside and draw a circle on your map for each tree and shrub. Diameter can be determined by measuring the distance from the tip of one branch through the trunk and to the tip of the opposite branch.
While youíre at it, look for unwanted seedlings, bushes, and plants. Check viney trespassers and interloping branches to see what has meandered too far. Jot it all down on your map. Cut down unwanted plant material (donít prune beech, maple, dogwood, elm or sycamores till leaves appear) but do no digging until the weather changes and the ground warms up. After youíre noted all the areas you plan to clean up, start poring over the garden catalogs youíve been saving and enjoy the fun of ordering fill-ins.
DONíT RUSH THE SEASON
Planning your own Victory garden? Plant seeds in accordance with each oneís timetable. If you allow seedlings to linger indoors too long, theyíll become pot-bound and spindly. Vine crops, such as cucumber, squash, and melon seedlings need 2 weeks indoors. Cole crops, such as cabbage and broccoli, need 4 to 5 weeks indoors. Eggplant and peppers require 6 to 7 weeks. For celery, 8 to 9 weeks is mandatory. These timetables should be correlated with minimum outdoor temperatures. Cold-weather crops such as cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, onions, and cauliflower need daytime temperatures ranging from 60 to 65 degrees. Warm weather crops, such as tomatoes, melons, peppers, eggplants, and celery need warmer daytime temperatures, ranging from 65 to 70 degrees and night temperatures that donít go below 60 degrees. Remember that seedlings will need a period of adjustment once they are ready for replanting outdoors. Set them in a cold frame or a protected location outdoors for 4 or 5 days before transplanting.
GARDEN TASKS FOR FEBRUARY/EARLY MARCH
1. Start seeds indoors of slow growing annuals, such as ageratum, sweet alyssum, geranium, petunia, annual phlox, snapdragon, lobelia, and verbena. Start tuberous begonias.
2. Call a professional pruner if your trees need lopping. Itís a perfect time for most tree work.
3. Press back bulbs and fall-planted perennials if they heave out of the ground.
4. Sharpen mower blades and other cutting tools.
5. Sow spinach, arugula, and lettuce in a cold frame for early salads.
6. Water and feed your amaryllis for next yearís growth.
7. Cut back buddleias and ornamental grasses.
8. Destroy tan-colored clusters of gypsy moth eggs on tree branches.
9. Destroy woolly adelgid egg sacs (resembling cotton swab tips) on hemlocks tips.
10. Look out for the first flowers of spring, dainty snow drops peeking through the snow.