Wait until the weather is better this spring: Stay out of the flowerbeds

The weatherman and the calendar say it’s spring, but you would never know
by looking out the window.

However, this too shall pass. There are things you can do now and some you shouldn’t. Start with the no-no’s. Don’t rake your grass now. Wait until you can kneel on the lawn and not get wet knees. If you rake a wet lawn you do two bad things. One, you dig up some of the baby grass and two, you open up the soil for the annual weeds like crabgrass seeds to get a good start on making your yard look like heck all summer.

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Stay out of the flowerbeds too until the grass is dry. If you go stomping through it when it’s wet, you pack the soil making it more difficult for the perennials to pop through. You also take the chance of stepping on a lily bulb either squishing the bulb or breaking off the baby shoot. That may lead to a smaller or no bloom in the spring. The mulch is wet now too so if you start to rake it off you do more damage than good. Why remove it at all? You put it on to protect your plants from the freeze-thaw that can heave them out of the soil, killing them. Leave the mulch on. It keeps the weeds down, keeps moisture in the soil and in the hot summer, keeps the roots cooler.

For now, watch for lumps in the mulch where daffodils and tulips are poking through. Rake just enough of the mulch off to expose the new growth. If you have active soil, full of good bacteria and other little critters, you will need to add more mulch in about July, then again in the early fall as it will have decomposed, leaving bare soil exposed. If you want healthy soil you never want it exposed. In the vegetable garden, a four to six-page layer of newspaper covered in leaves, straw, hay or grass clippings that haven’t been sprayed will increase your crops as they won’t have to compete with weeds. Leave a bit of bare soil on each side of the plant so the seeds don’t have to try to get through the barrier. Now the only weeds you will need to pull are in the rows and you can do that as you pick your crop. Good for you as you have less exposure to the sun, bugs and heat. A few years of tilling in the little that is left in the fall will improve the tilth and available food for your crops in the years to come.

image credits:  BobVila  |  HomeFlowerGarden

image credits: BobVila | HomeFlowerGarden

So what can you do now? Make a garden map. Move tomatoes, peppers, spuds and eggplant to a different row each year. Never follow one of these by another as they are cousins and can carry the same diseases. Most garden plants benefit from a new home each year. Don’t let the corn shade the tomatoes, but leafy veggies like spinach and lettuce will love a bit of shade and will reward you with a longer season. Check your seeds for viability. Lay 10 seeds on a damp paper towel. Wrap them up, put the roll in a plastic bag and leave in a warm spot for a few days. When the first sprout appears, re-cover and check again a few days later. If all 10 sprouted you have 100 percent viability. If it is any less than 50 or 60 percent, chuck the rest of that batch and buy fresh seeds.

Go build a snowman. Spring chores will be here soon enough, then you will be complaining about backaches, sore knees and “being too old for this.”

By Bev Johnson

Source, credits & more information: FergusFallsJournal