Here are the 9 things that you should do now to get your garden started off right.
1. If you want to enjoy delicious garden tomatoes in the summer, now is the time to get the seeds started. Tomato seedings should be started 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Around here, that means now is the time to get those seeds started. Remember that these seeds will want a warm, cozy temperature to get started in and will require LOTS of light once they have germinated to avoid leggy plants. A leggy seedling will never turn into a strong plant so give your seedlings the best start to life.
2. Add a top dressing of compost or aged manure to all garden and vegetable beds.
3. If you tested your soil last fall, now is the time to add the necessary amendments based on the results. Your soil test results will tell you what nutrients are required and the amount of amendments required. (What? You didn’t get a soil test in the fall? Make a reminder to take samples and send them off this September.)
4. Plant any bare root trees and shrubs now. They will still be dormant and will awaken in their new home ready to burst into growth.
5. Plant any berry bushes like raspberries, blueberries, or haskups now.
6. Get an early start on the vegetable garden by planting cool-season crops like peas, carrots, radishes, spinach, broccoli, and onions. These crops can be seeded directly into the garden as soon as the soil is thawed.
7. Now is the time to divide any perennials in your yard that haven’t been divided for 3-5 years. It’s easy to do. Dig up the entire root ball and slice through the roots with a landscape knife or a shovel. Divide each root ball into 2 or 3 pieces and either replant the divisions in another location in your yard or garden or gift the divisions to someone else. One of the original pieces of root ball can be replanted in the original location to grow on. Division of perennials is necessary every 3-5 years to avoid overcrowding. You will be rewarded for your efforts with healthier growth and more flowers.
8. Now is the perfect time to plant asparagus and rhubarb into your garden. Asparagus roots will take three years to develop into large enough plants to harvest so the sooner you get them into the ground, the sooner you can start enjoying fresh asparagus directly from your garden.
9. Late winter is the time to prune apple and pear trees but leave your stone fruit trees (plums, apricots, peaches, cherries) alone for now. Pruning of stone fruit trees now can allow open up the tree to disease from silver leaf and cankers. If you aren’t sure how to prune a fruit tree, consult a local arborist, as incorrect pruning can lead to a structurally weak tree and loss of fruit.