Gardening Tips


Start Seeds
To get an early start on vegetable gardening, start seeds of cool weather crops, such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and leeks, indoors in a sunny window or under grow lights. These vegetables can be planted outside as soon as the ground can be worked and can withstand a few light frosts. Wait until mid to late March to start seeds of warm-season crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
Prune Shrubs
March is a great time to prune any shrub or tree that does not bloom in spring (these should be pruned right after they bloom). After snow has melted sufficiently, examine each shrub and prune for shape, to remove broken branches, and to thin out and open up the interior of heavily branched plants. Do not cut off the growing tips of all branches at the same height, as this will result in a “witches’ broom” appearance as the branches send out new growth.
Apply Lime-sulfur Spray
Apply lime-sulfur spray to rose bushes, fruit trees and small fruits such as raspberries and blackberies to beat insects and fungal diseases. Apply lime-sulfur, then wait 14 days and apply dormant oil.
Apply Dormant Oil Spray
At the end of the month, while plants are still dormant, apply a dormant oil spray to rose bushes, fruit trees and small fruits such as raspberries and blackberies to eliminate overwintering pests and diseases. Dormant oil can also be used on evergreens to control scale, but do not apply to trees showing signs of winter burn. Apply on a day that is above 40 degrees. Lime-sulfur followed by dormant oil sprays are a good control for black-knot disease on flowering plum trees.
Use the time when the weather isn’t suitable for working outside to visit garden centers to learn about what’s new for spring, attend seminars, read gardening books, search the web and watch gardening videos to learn about gardening topics you are interested in.

Vegetable Garden
 As soon as the ground can be worked, plant cool season vegetables such as the transplants of cole crops that you started or purchased and seeds of radish, lettuce, spinach and peas.
Pansies and African Daisies
Cool season flowers, such pansies, African daisies (also known as “osteos”) can withstand light frosts and prefer the cooler weather. Surprisingly, many varieties of spreading petunias also withstand some frost once they have adjusted to the outdoors for a few days. So, if you are ready for some color on your deck or porch, choose these plants for a pop of early season color!
Remove overwintering mulch from perennials. If well-composted, work into the soil. Apply a fresh layer of mulch between plants. Trim back last year’s growth if not done in fall. Many perennials can be divided before they start spring growth.
Enjoy the beauty of spring bulbs as they begin to bloom. If you haven’t planted any, remember to plant some next fall!

Growing some fresh herbs is a great way to spice up your cooking! Keep them handy in a planter near your kitchen door. Herbs can be attractive as well as useful.
Now is the time to get started on planting summer annuals in your beds and containers. Choose a hanging basket for Mother’s Day and begin planting heat tolerant plants such as sun coleus, petunias, angelonia and salvia. Don’t forget some begonias, new guinea impatiens or torenia for the shady spots.
Disguise the fading foliage of spring bulbs with annuals or perennials that will grow over it. Remember not to remove the spent foliage until it pulls easily with little resistance as it is still supplying nutrients to the bulb for next year.

At least once a week, try to go through your garden and container plantings, snipping dead, faded flowers from the plants. This encourages the plants to continue to produce new blooms. Many new varieties of calibrachoa and spreading petunia are self-cleaning and will continue to bloom all summer without deadheading.
Prune any spring blooming shrubs such as rhododendron, azalea, forsythia and lilac as soon as they have finished blooming. If you wait too long before pruning these shrubs, you will reduce the amount of bloom for next year.
Continue to prune the spent blooms from rose bushes to keep them blooming all summer. Prune back the branch to the base of a leaf containing five leaflets.