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Preparing for Spring
Work now will help your garden bloom
February and March are ideal times to do those final preparations to get the garden ready for spring planting.
S. Stafford

The weather during the waning days of winter may be more likely to drive you indoors to wrap up with a cozy blanket, but if you’re a gardener the outdoors is already whispering your name.

February and March are ideal times to do those final preparations to get the garden ready for spring planting. Or perhaps it’s the first time in your busy schedule that has allowed you back into your garden. Either way, the work done during these months will be worth it when spring rolls around.

The first place to start is the lifeblood of any successful garden — the soil. The rain, falling leaves, and foot traffic can compact the soil. For a plant to grow and thrive the soil needs to allow for air circulation and water penetration and tilling it will accomplish this goal. Loosening the soil will help roots spread and get established. After turning over the soil, test it to see where it is at in terms of pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Add in fertilizers as needed, as well as about three to four inches of compost and the soil will be ready for young plants.

Pruning is another task for your garden during February and March. Prune back roses, shrubs, trees, herbs, lavender, perennials, and ornamental grasses. It may seem counterintuitive, but pruning plants back now will stimulate growth and make for a more bountiful harvest.

This also is an optimal time to care for the tools that will be used routinely over the next few months. Start off by giving them a thorough cleaning by scrubbing away the dirt. If the tools have rust, try soaking in vinegar. Next, give the tools that need it sharpening. Wipe blades with a lubricant and then use a flat mill file to get them ready for cutting.

The garden work in February and March doesn’t have to be limited to just preparing for the spring. It’s also a time to plant. This is a good time to plant potatoes, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, rhubarb and varieties of lettuce. If starting tomatoes from seed, now is the time to begin them indoors. ■