Its official, we have sprung ahead. We're so excited, we wet our plants! Spring is here, soon pansies will pop and goggle tans will be everywhere. With that in mind, it is time to dig into our gardens. Let us get you on the right track for the best garden season yet.
• Start seeds indoors for cold-tolerant annuals such as stock and godetia as well as slower-growing annuals such as vinca, verbena ageratum, lobelia, petunias, salvia, nicotiana and impatiens. Sprinkle pansy and viola seeds in your outside window boxes. Rake the soil to loosen the top layer, sprinkle seed, cover lightly with soil and water. Water as necessary.
• Start tomato, pepper, eggplant and select cold-season vegetable seeds indoors. Speed up germination by using a heat mat.
• Plant potatoes in pots with soil, sawdust or straw. We have five varieties of seed potatoes in stock. See our next article for how to grow potatoes.
• Plant onions and garlic directly in your garden when the soil is workable. You'll only need to dig an inch or two down to plant an onion or garlic clove, or use a garden dibbler. We have three varieties of onion available this year including elephant garlic.
• When the temperatures get above 40 degrees and your ground has thawed, it may be time to water trees, shrubs and perennial beds. Ideally you should water early in the day for about 20-30 minutes, especially when your plants start to push out new growth.
• Start considering pruning options for trees and non-blooming shrubs. Cut the dead branches only, look for signs of green under the bark of the branch.
• If the temperature is above 40 degrees for a few hours and there is no wind, then you can spray bare-branched trees and shrubs with dormant horticultural oil to help control the eggs of aphids, scale, mites and other insects before the new leaf buds open.
• Begin pulling back extra mounds of mulch applied last fall and remove wet leaves to clean perennial beds.
• If the snow has melted off your garden, then weeds will soon be rearing their ugly heads. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to lawns, gardens and in cracks of your hardscape. Pre-emergent herbicides kill the seeds before they grow. WeedBlock, Weed Impede and Corn Gluten are options. You can also spot-treat weeds with Double Play or vinegar.
• If the ground is workable in your perennial and/or vegetable beds (not frozen or too wet), try turning your soil, raking around the perennials. This will expose insect eggs. The effects of cold temperatures will kill the eggs. The spring freeze-thaw cycle will help break apart heavy clods.
• After turning over the soil in your beds, mix in a couple of inches of compost or well-aged manure to a depth of 6 inches. Top dress with mulch to keep moisture in.
• If you still have it, leave snow on spring-flowering bulbs; it protects them from the cold. As soon as your bulbs start popping up, it's time to start using Bobbex deer repellent. Enjoy your tulips this year!
• Find out what's really in your soil, and even more important, what's not in your soil. Stop by the Wildflower Farm and pick up a CSU Extension Soil Test Kit.
Virtually all poor soil conditions can be overcome. Performing a soil test is the first step in determining a course of action.
For more, connect with Colorado Alpines and Wildflower Farm on several social media channels. When connected, you'll receive current news, seasonal tips and exclusive discounts. Colorado Alpines, providing full landscape services, and Wildflower Farm, the valley's only year-round retail garden center, are both located in Edwards on U.S. Highway 6. Reach them by calling 970-926-5504 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.