Sat March 24, 2012
Garden Report

Early Spring Means It's Time to Get Working in the Garden

These warm, sunny days are pushing plants into spring a little ahead of schedule. And KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton says it may be time to start spring gardening work just a little early this year too...

The above-average temperatures along the Front Range are sure nice for working. But those temperatures are pushing plants into an early spring. 

In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen plants go from having swollen buds to full bloom. With the warm temperatures most forsythia will be done blooming by the first of next week.  American plums are in full bloom. These are plants that usually just start blooming around the first of April. 

Apples and crabapples are growing young leaves.  Most years we can prune apples until the end of March. This year, because they are already growing, I have stopped pruning apples. Making prune wounds increases the chance of the tree getting fire blight. 

The soil is warm and things are growing. It’s time to get the winter debris out of the gardens. The heavy leaves and other stuff that has blown in could stunt the new growth of plants. Gently rake or blow out the leaves. Try not to take too much mulch with the debris. The stuff coming out of the gardens makes a great addition to the compost pile.

Along with the warm temperatures, the Front Range hasn’t had any moisture for months. We’re at least an inch below normal for precipitation. March is one of our wettest months, most years. It is time to start dragging the hose and watering the lawn, perennials, shrubs and trees. 

I don’t suggest turning on sprinkler systems yet. Even with this early nice weather, we could still get some cold winter temperatures. The exposed, above ground parts of sprinkler systems can freeze. And they are expensive to fix.

Set a sprinkler to cover part of the lawn and the cleaned out garden beds. The soils at our house take water for about a half an hour. Then it’s time to move the sprinkler to another area. We watered last weekend and will do it again this weekend.  We water a little longer around our evergreens like pine and spruce.

Drain the hose at the end of the day. It’s frustrating to want to start watering on a nice morning but the hose is frozen. Start at one end of the hose and lift it to push the water out of the other end. 

These beautiful May-like days are great for people. It gets us out for walks, hikes, bike rides and gardening. Let’s just hope March weather doesn’t return in May.



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