The Spring Garden

The Spring Garden
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March and April are great months for gardening. Depending on where you live, you'll be able to do many of these things now. Those of us in the north are still getting low temps, so we have a wait a little bit. It's important to wait until your soil is thawed and ready before working it. You don't want the soil to pack down if it's still too moist. Test it by grabbing a handful-does it lump together or does water run out? Are there ice crystals still present? If so, do clean-up that isn't going to smash down the soil. Trim perennials of dead foliage and any debris that you can easily get to. Cut the ornamental grasses down to about 6 inches about where you are starting to see green growth. You can throw the cuttings into the compost pile.
Once the soil is ready you can do much more. Rake away leaves and debris. Plan out any new beds and get them ready by adding compost and/or organic fertilizer. This will give them a little time to settle before you plant. If you are preparing any new areas those will need to be dug and organic matter added as well. Also, this is a good time to look over your apple trees and get rid of the dead limbs. If you see any branches that are rubbing against other branches trim those too.

DO NOT divide plants such as iris, bleeding hearts, poppies, or other early blooming flowers. Wait and divide those near autumn when they have died down. You also should not trim azaleas, spirea or lilacs until about a week AFTER they bloom. Until then leave them alone. Once the ground has warmed and the heavy frosts are past you can divide your mums, perennial asters, and other late blooming plants. Consider contacting friends and family to swap divisions! This is how I ended up with many of my perennials, and I still do this. I have my eye on some phlox from my husband's great grandma this year!

In the south you should be pruning your early blooming shrubs such as flowering almonds, jasmine and forsythias in April. You will be able to set out your tender annuals and bedding plants before too long! While waiting prepare your beds with compost and organic fertilizers. Direct seed flowers such as calendula, nasturtiums, bachelor buttons.

Remember, don't cut back the foliage of your flowering spring bulbs until it's yellowed. The stems are soaking up nutrients and sunshine to prepare for the next spring bloom, and you don't want to cut this process short.

You can start many seeds indoors. Leeks and onions should be started from seed early (so now is good!) and also you can sow celery, cabbage, or broccoli. Toward the end of the month start tomatoes and peppers-you can start these now if you have an earlier frost date. Our isn't until May here in the north. You can sow pansies, petunias and impatiens now too.

Lastly, check your stored canna bulbs. Are they starting to sprout? Place them in a pot of good container soil and begin to water. Later in the month you can plant tuberous begonias too. Keep them in pots or transplant after the last frost when it has warmed. Is there anything else you are doing this time of year in your area? Share with us, and I'll put it in a hodge podge issue.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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