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Ready for Spring


As the snow slowly melts and uncovers the sins of winter, gardeners become impatient to express their authority over the garden and clean it up. It is tempting on the earliest sunny days with above zero temperatures to get out there and coax all our plants back into existence. Caution though, since our gardens, like us, need time to wake up.

1998 was a very difficult year for the garden. It was too hot and too dry for too long. The plants went into the winter in a rather weary and stressed state. Most importantly, the soil was drier than it should be, making it difficult for the plants to harden off. Let's hope the amount of snow we received this winter will have protected the plants and will help to compensate for the lack of fall rains. Be aware that some plants will be slower than usual to burst forth due to the shortage of water. Pray for early spring rain!

Depending upon where you garden, your bulbs may already be emerging and you might be blessed by an early showing of snowdrops. One of the biggest concerns of gardeners is what to do when we get a cold snap and the bulbs are already up. The best thing to do is nothing. Believe it or not, every year the same thing happens and the early leaves get a bit battered but the flowers appear none the worse for wear. It is important to hold back the impulse to "tidy-up" the leaves and mulch from the beds and expose the bulbs. You can pick away some of the surface debris but the remainder acts to protect and insolate the bulb from temperature extremes.

A golden rule in gardening is to not work with wet soil. This holds true for the whole season, not just in the early spring. Walking on wet ground will compact the soil and suffocate the roots beneath. After being worked, wet soil will form hard, unmanageable clumps that are difficult to restore to good condition. Try to stay off the land and do not dig into the soil until it is slightly dry and crumbly. A few warm days and drying winds will do wonders to prepare the land for the gardener's efforts.

There are many things a gardener can do to get ready for planting. To satisfy the urge to dig, put your efforts to the compost pile which will be in need of a good turning. By getting the compost working early, it will be ready when you need it at planting time. If you have been adding kitchen waste to the pile over the winter, the pile will need some brown waste such as leaves and soil. Sprinkle a layer of limestone on the surface also and turn that in to "sweeten" the compost and reduce acidity. When you rake up the grass and leaves which made their way to your garden over winter, turn all of this into the compost pile.

Prune fruit trees, grapes and trees by the end of March, before the leaves come out. Clearly seeing the structure of the plant makes it easier to get an attractive and balanced shape. Also, prune before the sap starts to run or the plant may bleed. Bleeding won't likely kill the plant but it will set it back and create a mess around the plant. If the plant does bleed, paint on a bit of shellac to seal the wound. Pruning prior to bud break will also steer all of the plant's energy to the remaining shoots creating more robust blooms and stronger branches.

The other vital spring task is to apply dormant oil on fruit trees and flowering shrubs. Buy yourself a dormant spray kit along with a hand sprayer which you can use for this purpose every year. Dormant spraying is a non-synthetic pesticide approach to controlling pests such as mites, aphids, scale and many diseases. Choose a mild, non-windy day before the trees or shrubs start to break into bud.

It is time to oil the hinges on the garden shed door and re-acquaint yourself with your tools in great anticipation of the gardening season ahead. Remember to find all of the summer bulbs you dug in the fall and overwintered in the basement. Start a fresh gardening journal and make a pledge to keep notes. Treat yourself to a large supply of labels, gardening pencils, gardening gloves and trowels. By June you will wonder where they all went.


Daisy Moore, 1999.



Other spring garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)


Designing Gardens

Fertilizing the Garden
Ready for Spring
Starting Seeds Indoors
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Dormant Spraying
Planning the Vegetable Garden
Planting Early Vegetables
Early Season Care of Perennial Beds
Plants for an Early Spring Show
Cut Flowers for the Home Garden
Growing the Perfect Potato
Lawn Care in Early Spring.....GRUB DAMAGE!
Spring Lawn Care
The Garden in May
Gardening with Native Plants
Sources of Native Plants
Shade Gardening
Planting Gladiolus and Other Summer Flowering Bulbs
Weed Control
Thatch in Lawns
Weeds or Wildflowers
Improving Your Soil
Marvellous Mulch
Selecting and Planting Shrubs
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Window Box Gardening
Growing Tomatoes
Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden



Home  |  Garden designs  |  Naturalized gardening  |  Help with your garden  |  Garden Tips Spring  Summer  Fall  | Contact Daisy


Daisy Moore 2005