There may be snow still on the ground, but March and April are still a great time to start planning and getting ready for the spring. In no particular order, many gardeners start to plan their gardens, get their seeds, start their seeds, get their tools ready, prune trees or shrubs and check their houseplants.
Planning your garden:
First thing on many gardeners checklists is to start planning your garden! Which is one of the most exciting things to do!! Some things you should think about when planning are sun exposure, wind, access to water, drainage, and the foot traffic. Then you’ll want to brainstorm what type of plants whether it is shrubs, trees, flowers, vegetables, etc.. Along with how many of each plant. Last, you can plan the placement of the plants, woot!!
A good idea is to get your seeds before the planting season starts. This helps ensure that you get the seeds you want and that you have the correct variety of seeds you wish to grow. Once the season starts seeds go quick! One way to guarantee that you have the right seeds is to buy early, buy more than you need for that season and stash them for next year if you have extra. Another option is to gather seeds from your Fall crop and store them in a cool, dry place, for the next season. Once you have your seeds, it’s time to plant!
Choose a warm day, go out to the garage, shed or wherever you store your gardening tools and take those babies out to clean them. It is important to clean your tools at the beginning and end of each season. This even includes your reusable trellises and cages. Your tools can carry around bacteria, fungi spores, and viruses that can cause diseases which could ultimately kill your plants. All your blood, sweat and tears, oh and don’t forget money could go right down the drain… how sad. Of course that could still happen, but by cleaning your tools in between seasons, you will help to prevent that from happening.
How to clean your tools? Well there are a few different ways to clean your tools. Option 1) have a solution that is 10% bleach and 90% water. Let your tools soak in the solution for about a half hour. Option 2) Use a Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner. Use this just like you would to clean a surface in your house. Option 3) use a 60% rubbing alcohol, you do not need to dilute. Option 4) use a solution of 10% milk and 90% water. This not only disinfects the tools but is also less corrosive than the other options. You will want to dip, wipe or spray onto the tools for options 2 through 4.. Make sure for all of these options that you let the tools dry then store them again. For more information you can visit University of Minnesota Duluth’s website.
Before you put your tools away, it is also a good idea to sharpen any that may be dull. If you have a dull blade you could injure your plants.
When you prune your trees or shrubs be careful, there are some you should not prune. You should never, ever prune your spring blooming trees and shrubs in the spring. If pruning were to happen, the spring bloomers would hardly boom that season. There is a post on our web page called “Precision Pruning” which can help you with your spring bloomers. Trees and shrubs that are okay to prune include fruit trees, showy mountain ash, hawthorn, oak, and most shrubs. Pruning helps promote plant health. By cutting away the dead plants, the shrub or tree, focuses on growing new growth.
By cutting away the dead growth you help the tree or shrub direct its energy into new growth.
Don’t forget about your house plant too. They also need to have a spring cleaning! Your house plants will accumulate dust on their leaves, which blocks the sunlight. Simply just wipe off the leaves of the plants with a damp cloth. While wiping them off, also look for any pests, webbing, eggs, or holes. One way that helps to control pests is when they need to be watered, take them into the shower and give them a good dousing with warm water. A few minutes under the water could get the pests off (this may not work for all pests). Let them drain in the shower for a few hours then bring them back to their sitting place. Oh and don’t forget to give them a little trimming of dead or withered leaves!
If you are looking for more resources about gardening our area, UMD is a great place to go to. Here is their March Checklist, with many helpful hyperlinks! https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/gardeners-checklist-march