Spring Gardening Tip: Enjoy the Beautiful Weather, but Don't Overdo It
These first nice spring days are dangerous -- at least, they can be for those of us who've been cooped up all winter, eager to get out in the garden with rakes, shovels and pruners.
KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton reminds us that gardening season is a marathon, not a sprint…
It’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of spring. But remember, a garden planted now needs to be cared for until fall.
Sowing seeds is an example. Sow a row of tomato seeds. That’s about thirty seeds. Most of them germinate. A few die off in the transplanting process. Now where in your garden do you have room for fifteen or twenty tomato plants?
Then there’s zucchini. One hill doesn’t look like much. It’s a little mound with three feet of open garden surrounding it. A couple more hills will fill in the space nicely. You know, the more is better concept. The harvest begins. You do the math of five zucchini a day, seven days a week for eight or ten weeks.
The first nice spring days are dangerous. We’ve all been cooped up inside. Most of us probably haven’t gotten as much exercise as we should be getting. On a nice day, out come the rakes, shovels, forks and pruners. By late afternoon there are sore hands, arms, necks and backs.
Stretch before starting the yard work. Think of the muscles each chore uses. Warm-up and stretch. Late in the day your muscles will thank you.
Don’t try to get everything done the first day. The gardening season is more like a marathon than a sprint. A moderate, steady pace lasts longer into the season. There is plenty of time, even though it doesn’t seem like it.
Be prepared for the last blasts of winter. It’s mid-March. We can get waves of winter until early May. I can’t think of anything worse than expending the time and energy to plant a new plant, and then watch it get crushed by snow or frozen.
Along the Front Range, tender annuals shouldn’t be planted out until May. That’s tomatoes, peppers and annual flowers. With protection, like a cold frame, they can go outside a bit earlier.
Spring is a great time to plant dormant shrubs and perennials. But some garden centers have shipped in their plants from Oregon or California. These plants can be too soft and lush for our on and off spring weather. Be sure to ask your garden center professional how to care for the plants you’re buying.
And as always, 'do as I say, not as I do.' Yes, I do get a little overzealous in the spring.