With more budget savvy Rogue Valley gardeners growing their own fruits and veggies in their backyard gardens, now is the time to get those seeds in the ground. But whether you have a green thumb or not, you can still take full advantage of the early days of spring with these bountiful garden tips that will get you from seed to sustenance in no time at all.
According to the National Gardening Association, 75% of Americans have participated in some form of gardening in their life, and about 100 million U.S. homes have a garden.
The fine folks at the Master Gardeners offered some tips to help aspiring Rogue Valley gardeners get off on the right foot:
Oil up. Early spring is the best time to prevent diseases and pests that could ruin your garden by June. Apply mineral oil and lime sulfur at least twice a week in early spring, ideally on warmer days with no wind. Use both treatments on plants, fruit trees and shrubs.
Plant evergreens. Now is the time to plant or move evergreen coniferous trees, especially yews. Be sure to place the tree at the same level in its new position and keep it very well-watered. A week after planting, apply a high-phosphate organic fertilizer to stimulate vigorous root development.
Watch your bulbs. Did you plant spring-flowering bulbs back in October or November? They should have started popping up in March and April. Be careful with the new growth, though. As the tips emerge, carefully move any mulch back from the leaves of the plant. Also, apply a balanced organic fertilizer and water right away, which will enhance the vigor of the plants. Consider amending with bone meal in subsequent seasons where you are planting bulbs. You can also compost egg shells to these areas.
Trim the “die-back.” Early spring is when you should evaluate any damage to trees from the winter months. In particular, look for winter “die-back,” where the tips and shoots of tree branches begin dying off from pests or disease. Start by pruning any dead or dying branches. The sooner you take care of die-back, the sooner your trees will spring back to life.
Divide your perennials. Take advantage of those early spring days to divide perennials as the first buds show up. Work quickly with a sharp-edged spade to separate portions of the parent plant. Once the divided portions are replanted, water well. A week later, apply a high-phosphate organic fertilizer to stimulate vigorous root development.
Sow your seeds. Spring is the time to sow perennial plant seeds. advises presoaking the seeds in warm water for a day or two beforehand, and then sowing them as advised on the package. This will improve the rate and overall success of germination. Keep the soil and seed moist until the seedlings are re-established.
They say that spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, the clock is ticking, so take full advantage of those early spring days to take in some fresh air and prep your garden for a rebound in 2012.
Get a move on those early spring veggies!
Peas. The “first” plant of the early spring gardening season, avid gardeners get excited to sow their pea seeds right around St. Patrick’s Day—even if there’s still snow on the ground. Climbing peas will require a trellis, placed close to but not directly on top of the area where you planted your pea seeds. Bush type plants can stand alone without a trellis. Didn’t get those in the ground at St. Paddy’s? Don’t worry! You can plant peas in succession.
Radishes. Put your radish seeds into the ground as early as you plant the peas, next to where you plan to plant the carrots. Once they take root, they will prevent the soil around the carrots from clumping, which is a perfect condition for growing strong, straight carrots… and the radishes will like it, too!
Spinach. Prep your garden beds well, turning with a good compost mix, before planting spinach. You can sow seeds directly in the ground 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Keep seeds evenly moistened until they begin to sprout. Once plants take hold, supplement the soil with more composted soil, about a month after they’ve been in the ground.
Lettuce. Lettuce can be fun for children to help plant, as all that’s required is an even sprinkling of the tiny seeds over a bed of loose soil that has been well fertilized. Once the seeds are down, cover with a light layer of more soil. You may want to plant your lettuce in a partially-shaded area, as too much direct sun can scorch the plants or cause them to bolt early.
Carrots. Plant carrots as early as one month before the anticipated last frost date. Be aware though, that carrots are difficult to grow due to their preference for loose, sandy soil. You may wish to mix extra sand into the area of the garden where you plan to grow your carrots; otherwise, you can end up with oddly-shaped little nubby “fingers” instead of fat, strong carrots. If your soil is really packed and you don’t have a lot of depth, choose a dwarf or round carrot for your beds, containers or planter boxes.
Beets. Beets are very easy to grow and taste much better if they mature before the weather becomes too hot. In the Rogue Valley, it’s safe to plant beets directly in the soil at around April 15 which is one month before the expected final frost date. Both beet roots and beet greens are a nutritious and delicious addition to your menu.
Seed savers! We need you! There is talk of starting a seed bank in and for Evans Valley and Rogue River gardeners – and others! Contact The Garden Grrl at firstname.lastname@example.org. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!