We are beyond excited to host you all in person for our first Garden Talk of 2022! James’ ‘Get Ready for Spring’ talk is a long-standing tradition. If you’ve got questions or just want to learn more about how to prep your garden and landscape for big Spring growth, join us at 10am this Saturday. Here’s a preview from James of some of the topics he plans to cover.
Prune Old Growth to Make Way for New Growth
Clean, sharpen, and lubricate your pruning tools before starting, and before putting tools away. Remember that once you have cut it, you can’t put it back on, this applies to tree limbs, and to human digits, so proceed carefully! My feeling is, cut old growth before new growth has started, to avoid wasting carbohydrate reserves of the plant, and to minimize damage to tender new growth when dragging cut branches out of the plant.
Prepare Your Soil and Get Planting!
Before planting new shubs, vegetables, or annual or perennial flowers, we should prepare the soil with compost. My favorite is Natures Blend Compost, the closest thing to “magic in a bag”. It keeps clay soil lighter and looser, or in sand, helps hold moisture and nutrients available for roots, and provides slow release organic fertility and growth stimulants. Cold tolerant trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials benefit from being planted as far away from summer heat as possible, so NOW! And it’s time to get your spring veggie garden planted too. Follow up with a good organic mulch after planting, such as our hardwood mulch, that will suppress weeds, retain moisture, moderate soil temperatures as it gets hotter, and contribute to soil texture and fertility as it decomposes.
Early Spring Lawn Care
Do not apply lawn fertilizer on grass too early. When lawns are actively growing and need mowing once a week, that is the time to fertilize grass, usually around the first of March. Some weeds will be coming up in beds and lawns, and some of them can be controlled by hand pulling after a rain, some by mowing regularly so they don’t get tall enough to make seed. But some will be best controlled by applying Bonide Weed Beater Complete, LAWNS ONLY, to kill existing broadleaf weeds and prevent new weeds from sprouting. Or in beds, Bonide Crabgrass and Weed Preventer, which will not kill existing weeds, but prevents new weeds from sprouting. Always read and follow label directions for best results. I like Ortho GroundClear Weed & Grass Killer to help control emerged weeds in flower beds. It is organic, and safer to use around desirable shrubs.
Feed Your Fruit Trees
Now is time to fertilize fruit trees with Espoma Organic Citrus-tone, or Fertilome Fruit, Citrus, and Pecan Tree Food. The nitrogen in both is critical to production of healthy foliage, which is what provides necessary carbohydrates for fruit. You will repeat application later in spring, and again in fall. Also, citrus trees should have sprouts removed that come from below the graft, as they will produce only sour fruit.
When to Remove Stakes from Newly Planted Trees
If you have trees planted in the last year or two, with stakes still holding it upright, late winter/very early spring is a good time to check that staking. Loosen the ties, then try to rock the tree. If the rootball stays stable but the trunk bends, remove the staking and ties. If the rootball still moves, the staking should stay another season, but the loop around the trunk may need to be loosened so the new growth is not choked by the staking tie.
Check Your Sprinkler System and Hoses
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, hopefully it has been turned off most of the winter. It would make sense to do a run-through now, to take notes and make repairs on any plugged, sunken, or missing heads, line breaks, or non-functional valves. You may need to start watering once a week in March. If you use hoses and sprinklers, now is time to mend hoses and replace missing hose washers.
Fire Ants and Other Pests
If you are seeing fire ant activity, you can apply Come and Get It Fire Ant Bait now, but my favorite times are at the spring and fall daylight saving time changes. All Seasons Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil is best applied before new leaves emerge to control scale, mealybug, and other problem insects that may be overwintering on your shrubs or ornamental trees, such as bicolor iris and bird of paradise.