Spring Gardening “things to do”

Spring is here and if you haven’t already begun, it’s time to get busy!

The weak, diseased or damaged canes from raspberry plants should be removed before new growth starts. If you did not remove them last year, remove the old fruiting canes and shorten the remaining canes of they need it.

Grapes need to be pruned to remove dead or weak vines and check support trellises for repair.

The winter mulch on strawberry beds can be removed as the new growth starts, but keep it close by to protect the plants from any frost and to help keep weeds under control. 

Cool season vegetables can be planted as soon as the ground has drained and is dried enough to work.

Asparagus, rhubarb and small fruit plants can be planted.

Cut back the dead canes of roses until you reach healthy tissue.  Starting one quarter inch above an outward facing bud, make a downward slanting cut. This will direct the new growth to grow outward thus increasing airflow to the midst of the plant.

When filling large patio containers, save on soil by filling the bottom with packing peanuts, empty water bottles, upside down plastic cottage cheese containers or flower pots and such. Cover your filler with landscape fabric or cardboard to prevent the soil from filtering down through it. It depends on the size of the plant, but most will grow very happily with about a foot of soil depth.

Are your daffodils not blooming as prolifically as they once did? They may be overcrowded and need to be divided. After they are finished flowering and the foliage has died back, dig them up, separate them and replant them immediately.

This picture shows and example of overcrowded daffodils. In all of this foliage there are only five flower buds. There should be much more.

Rake up or remove any matted leaves that may smother perennials or areas of grass. Now is the time to seed bare spots in the lawn.

When it comes to woody landscape plants, bare-root stock should be planted before the new top growth starts. While trees are in bloom and to avoid injuring bees, use a pesticide containing fungicide only and no insecticide. Always be sure to read and follow all label directions. Remove and destroy bagworms that have overwintered in landscape trees and shrubs. Plant a tree to celebrate Arbor Day.

Branches from early spring flowering trees and shrubs can be cut and forced into bloom.

Pussy Willow and Forsythia branches can be cut to use in decorative spring arrangements.

Soil testing should be done at this time.

Be reminded that gardening is a great way to divert your mind from everyday work, conflicts or other issues.  It relieves stress and provides some mental relaxation.  Tending to a garden satisfies the human instinct to nurture and care, so not only is gardening good for the physical body it is also good for our spiritual and mental well being as well.

As you all well know, gardening events and practices can change from year to year depending on what kind of weather we are having, so the information in this article is intended to be used as a general guide.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html The Purdue University Cooperative Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.