Fri March 9, 2012
Garden Report

Spring Is in the Air

If the weather this weekend has you itching to get out in the garden, you’re not the only one. KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton has a few ideas for harnessing that spring fever.

I have spring fever.  A few nice days and I’m ready to get out in the garden.  Ornamental grasses need cut back.  The winter debris needs to be removed so the bulbs pop out.  The weeds are coming on, too.  Folks in the high country have a few more snow storms before they can think about beginning the gardening season.

Start the season by planting some early vegetables.  Most spring vegetables germinate when the soil temperature is above 50 degrees.  Warm up the cool spring soil with a simple cold frame or greenhouse.  Better yet, start the seeds in the house. 

Veggies in the cabbage family are prime, early spring candidates.  Spring grown cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have added flavor and fewer pests.  They do best started indoors and then transplanted out into the garden. Salad greens are also an early spring garden treat.  Plant leaf lettuce, endive, Mache and mustard greens.

Now through April is bare root planting time.  Like all of the woody plant root packages – containers, balled and burlapped, in-ground-fabric-bags – bare root has advantages and disadvantages.  Bare root plants have a small window when they can be planted.  They also need tender care for the first season.

The roots of the plants must always be kept moist and cool.  Usually they’re packed at the garden center with wet sphagnum moss to keep them moist until you get home to plant them.  Some folks soak the plant roots in a bucket of water for a few hours before they plant. 

If the plant hasn’t been pruned, do it before planting.  Prune any overly long roots.  Also prune any branches or roots that have been broken or damaged. 

Dig a hole wider than the diameter of the roots when they’re spread out. This hole could be a foot or two in diameter.  Spread the plant roots out in a fan around the hole.  Fill the hole with soil.  Gently pack the soil by hand or settle the soil with a trickle flow of water.  You want the crown of the plant above the grade of the planting area. 

Bare root plants can be half the cost of the same size plant grown in a container.  During the right time of year and with a little care bare root plants are a great deal.

Start slowly.  Stretch and loosen up before you go out to cut, rake, dig and throw.  The pain of a pulled muscle takes the fun out of spring fever.





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