Top Things to Do In Your Garden… Early Spring
Spring time is the time to begin thinking about your garden. Learn some tips and solutions for many gardening problems.
Prepare Your Soil
Give your garden soil the energy it needs to sustain bountiful crops by preparing it now. Using last year’s soil with out adding in new nutrients is like asking a racecar driver to run a race on an empty tank of gas. It is incredibly important to refurbish your soil before planting.
Start by removing dead plants, old root systems, or any other debris that may have blown into your garden over the winter. Once your garden is clean, break up the old soil with a rotter tiller or shovel. If you are replanting a flowerbed where perennials or spring bulbs are already planted, be careful not to disturb their established roots. Add into your garden soil either compost you have made or use a prebagged option. We recommend Eko Compost, a 100% organic and thoroughly cured compost (cured means that your plants will receive more nitrogen!). Mix in approximately 1” of compost for every 8-10” of existing soil. After you have planted your garden, and your plants have accustomed themselves in their new home, then you will need to add in other nutrients, such as slow release fertilizer, phosphate, or other additives specific to the plants that you are growing. Stop by at Gulley Greenhouse located in Fort Collins, Colorado for more advise on how to prepare your soil.
Prepare Your Plants
In order for perennial gardens to look their best in summer, they require some care in spring before most plants begin to flower. Make sure to remove winter mulch, evergreen branches or any other winter protection that you placed on top of your perennials. As perennials emerge, it actually helps them to be exposed to the lower night temperatures. This allows for new growth to harden off and not be nipped by dips in temperature. You should also remove any dead leaves or debris surrounding your perennials. While these do help protect the plants in the cold of winter, many insects also overwinter in this debris and begin their growth cycle again once it warms up.
Now is the best time to divide and cut back fall blooming plants in your garden. If you have an area that is overrun by a certain plant, share the wealth with your friends and family. It’s best to divide most perennials when they are about two to four inches tall. While most plants like to be divided in the spring, some are best divided after bloom. These include oriental poppies, Siberian iris, bearded iris, and true lilies. Peonies are best divided in the fall. Only prune fall blooming perennials in the spring. Spring blooming perennials should be pruned immediately after their blooming cycle.
Now is the ideal time to apply a pre-emergent to help prevent crabgrass, dandelion, thistles and other pesky weeds that grow from seed. Pre-emergents allow weed seeds to germinate but prevent the plant from developing, effectively eliminating them while they are still young spouts. A great, organic option for a pre-emergent herbicide is Corn Gluten. Corn gluten is a powdery byproduct of the corn milling process and an incredibly successful weed preventer.
Corn gluten only works before weeds are showing so for Northern Colorado gardeners, that means now! Spread Corn Gluten evenly to your lawn or to the soil in your garden bed. Once finished, moisten the Corn Gluten with a light spray of water. Corn Gluten is not activated until wet, so this is an important step! One application is effective for approximately 4-6 weeks if the soil is left undisturbed. Don’t forget, Corn Gluten keeps ALL seeds from sprouting, so do not use Corn Gluten if you are planning on reseeding your lawn or starting your garden from seeds sown directly into the soil.
Prevent Unwanted Fruit
Do you have trees or shrubs that produce unwelcome fruit? Now is the time to act to prevent the flowers from maturing. Use Florel to stop fruit developing on trees and shrubs such as apple, buckeye, cottonwood, crabapple, elm, flowering pear, horse chestnut, maple, oak, olive, pine or any other ornamental or fruit tree.
You must apply Florel before the fruit sets, the best time is when the majority of the blooms are open. It is very important to spray the entire tree, in order to completely eliminate fruit set. Use a self-mix sprayer and apply to the indicated rate. One application will last for the entire season.
Protect your roses, flowers, trees and shrubs by treating them now with a systemic that will prevent uninvited guests. To be used only on ornamentals (do not use on edible plants), systemic insecticide or fungicide is the best way to prevent insects or fungus from damaging your plants. After treatment, the entire plant, including new growth, is protected. Rain or watering will not wash off this long-lasting protection for your plants.
One of the best products on the market is Fertilome’s 2-n-1 Systemic. This is a great product that prevents both fungus and insects from bothering your plants. Begin using this product in the spring when the plants are actively growing. Ensure that the product reaches the roots by removing any mulch that is on top of the root system and by building a well around each plant that you wish to treat. Pour the drench solution slowly so that the surrounding soil has ample time to absorb as much as possible.
Prevent Bugs on Fruit Trees
Codling moth is the most significant insect pest of fruit trees in Colorado. Damage is done by the larvae, which are cream-colored caterpillars that tunnel and produce wormy fruit. The best way to prevent bighting into a wormy apple is by using a product called spinosad. Derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria, spinosad is a natural, organic option to rid your trees of this nasty pest.
Spray your trees with spinosad twice during the season to most successfully eliminate codling moth larvae. The first application should be done now, while your tree is still bare. The second application comes after the tree has finished blooming and the fruit has begun to set. Spray the entire tree with a self-mixing sprayer set to the indicated rate.
Make sure to always read the label carefully before applying any chemicals onto your garden. Systemic pesticides are only to be used on ornamental plants, which means that you will not consume any part of the plant. Only spray your plants early at night or late in the evening so that you do not unintentionally harm beneficial insects, like bees. If you have any questions about anything gardening, please feel free to call or stop in. We are always ready to help!