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Spring time Gardening List of to-dos

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Spring is a very busy time in the garden, preparing soil, pruning, planting, weeding, to mulch or not to mulch, and planning ahead for the next season and even next year. With so much information you can spend the whole day reading and not in the garden. We hope that the following information will make this busy season a little less stressful and A LOT MORE FUN!

Let's begin with the basics, DIRT! If you need to make any amendments to your soil, now is the time to do so, it will give your new growth the best start. If you are not sure what kind of nutrients your soil might be lacking, if any, your local nursery should have many different testing kits to choose from.

Garden health - Starts with the soil

Compost -  aids in improving soil texture and depending on what was put into the compost, it can help replenish lacking nutrients.
Builders Sand - larger and coarser than beach sand it aids in soil texture and drainage. Do not use in clay soils.
Peat Moss - helps loosen heavy soils and radically improves the ability of soil to hold moisture.
Composted Manure - is rich in nitrogen. It aids in drainage and moisture retention.
Limestone - contains calcium and magnesium. It helps lower soil acidity and will increase the ph level.
Ground wood or Sawdust - improves soil texture making it more airy and aids in soil drainage.
Leaf Mold - is high in nitrogen and potassium.
Potash and Wood ashes - are used for amending low potassium soils. Do not use wood ashes around acid loving plants they are alkaline and it may diminish plant growth.
Sulfur - is used to lower ph in soil that has a high ph level.
Bone Meal or Super phosphate-  adds phosphorus to a soil with a low phosphorus levels reading on a soil test. If your soil test indicates too high phosphorus levels, do not use phosphorus-rich fertilizers for two years.

Once the last freeze is over, you can clear away heavy mulch and add a much thinner layer, generally a half-inch to 2 inches, depending on the material used. This is a list of materials and how thick they should be :

Buckwheat hulls 1 inch
Cocoa hulls 1 inch
Grass clippings 1 inch
Plastic 1-6 mil.
Saw dust 1-2 inches
Bark, (shredded or chips) 2 inches
Compost 1-2 inches
Chopped leaves 5 inches
Chopped straw 1 inch
Newspaper 1/2 inch

Deadheading and Pruning
Pruning keeps your garden lush The winter months can be harsh and your garden may look a little sad, but here comes the sun and with a little hard work, your garden will be lush with life again.

After the last frost, but before the first flowering, pinch off several buds in each cluster to encourage larger blooms. You will want to prune summer-flowering shrubs and evergreens before the weather gets warm.

Shrubs, plants and trees that may not normally need pruning at this time may need special attention due to harsh storms. Remove limbs and stems that have been severely damaged. This will allow healthy, new growth immediately.

Identify fast growing stems that need cutting back, (especially when training). Prune spring-flowering shrubs right after blooms fade.

Make sure that you weed during the early spring when the plants are beginning to emerge, before they have a chance to spread their seeds. Using mulches will help in keeping the weeds under control.

Bulbs - Cut off faded flowers. Wait until foliage fades to cut off leaves to give leaves time to produce food for bulbs. After the foliage has withered, dig up bulbs that were too close to bloom well. If you live in an area with wet summers, dig up all bulbs, and store in a dry, dark, cool place for planting in the fall.

Planning and Planting

Make sure that you know what Plant Hardiness Zone you live in, and what kind of soil you have. It is also important to be realistic in your expectations. You can't plant anything anywhere and expect it to flourish right away, if at all, unless it's the appropriate place for it. Most plants, shrubs, and trees bought at nurseries will have tags indicating the zone, soil type, sun, shade, (or a combination of both), and what kind of watering habits the plant requires. Spring is the best time for planting, in most cases, but not always. It is crucial to talk to the experts that work at your local nursery to ensure you are making the best purchase; it will save you time and money in the long run.


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