Spring has sprung in the garden, bringing with it critical chores to do to prepare for summer. Here’s a spring checklist of things to do in the garden to make sure your plants are happy and healthy all summer long – and into the colder months.
If Spring has sprung, your allergies may have, also. Visit your doctor to prepare an allergy plan for the season, and update your allergy kit.
Prepare your soil
Depending on where you live, water may have compacted your garden soil over the winter. Use a spading fork to turn the soil, then even it out with a rake. Good soil is the key to happy plants, and this is the time of year to amend your garden soil. To know what to add – compost, fertilizer, peat moss, vermiculite, or other materials – test your soil using a home test kit.
Set up plant supports
For vegetables that are happier growing up than out (think tomatoes and beans), make sure they have proper supports and enough room to spread out – and that they don’t crowd your other plants. For real climbers, make sure you have a trellis system; use bamboo or other stakes for plants like peppers, which don’t need to climb, but need to be held up. Tip: Inexpensive Velcro tape can help attach plants and can be removed easily.
Sow heat-loving seeds and plants
Stagger your heat tolerant lettuce and spinach seeds every other week so your garden is producing enough for salads all the time. Other heat-lovers include peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and basil. Make sure to weed out plants that have “bolted” – or grown too tall and flowered. Depending on where you live, also plant cold-loving veggies like onions, potatoes, artichokes and squash, so they’re ready when you want them in the fall.
Prune what you missed
If you didn’t trim your fruit trees in the winter, prune them now pruning shears before the buds begin to break into bloom. Otherwise, the tree can get stressed and yield little – or no – fruit.
Bring out your seedlings
By now, seeds started indoors should be nice young sprouts. Depending on where you live, you might be bringing them out for the first time now. Remember to harden them off. Strong spring sunlight will burn young sprouts and changing temperatures will shock them. Bring them out for just a few hours each day and allow them to stay longer and longer before you transplant them into the garden.
Planting something for Earth Day? That’s a good start. But zoos and botanical gardens in your community have special, sometimes free, celebrations. They’re creative and unusual – so get involved, and celebrate Earth Day in a unique way!
Allergic to animal dander? Plan your Earth Day trip to a botanical garden instead. Plant allergies? Look for tours of low-allergenic displays, such as orchid markets.
Party for the planet
Spread awareness of environmental issues this Earth Day. You can start with fun demonstrations, hands-on activities and exhibits in more than 100 zoos and aquariums. Find a local animal preserve near you and get up close and personal with some of the Earth’s most interesting creatures!
Ladybug release and conservation class
Did you know that ladybugs help control pests? They are a natural way to help gardens grow. Teach your children about these little ladies: release thousands of them into the gardens, learn about conservation and other ways they can help the environment at your local zoo. Who knows, you might even consider using them in your homegrown vegetable patch!
Earth Day children’s learning activities
It’s important to introduce your kids to a greener lifestyle. This Earth Day, “go green”! Take part in a craft fair or spring festival, consider volunteering or do something to help the Earth in your community.
Plant a sapling
Planting a tree can help combat climate change and be great for the Earth. But in case you don’t have the time or the space to plant your own, a small donation or purchase can help you stay environmentally conscious.
Drop off recycling and celebrate
You know that recycling those cans and bottles can earn you a pretty penny and save the Earth. But, did you know that recycling your electronics can help prevent dangerous air pollution? With Earth Day right around the corner, now’s the time to stay aware and show you care. So spread the word and remember to recycle.
It can still be frosty and cold in March, but you can start seeds indoors and get earlier vegetables and flowers. Kids will love to watch their own tiny plants grow!
Nothing says “I Love You” like a big bouquet of flowers – unless your valentine suffers from pollen allergies. Luckily, there are plenty of low-pollen flowers you can choose from to make a brilliant bouquet.
A gardener’s duties don’t stop when the frost sets in. Prune and mulch now for blooms in the spring. Fiskars expert Robin Haglund, Certified Professional Horticulturist, weighs in on pruning.
You might not have thought to warm up before gardening, but you should. A warm-up gets you ready for all the moves you do in your garden. Stacy Walters, a registered kinesiotherapist, can help you enjoy your garden and prevent injury.
Landscaping is important when you’re looking for a picture-perfect backyard that invites wildlife. Here are some tips for attracting and feeding songbirds.
Have you ever planted your own vegetable garden? Get top secrets for gardening success from Tony Kienitz, garden consultant and author of “The Year I Ate My Yard.”
Respiratory Treatment Center National Jewish Health advises gardeners to reduce exposure to pollen by changing clothes when coming indoors, and taking a shower and washing hair right away.
Yes! Compost can transform an average garden into a spectacular one. And it is a great, natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. You can make a compost pile in your garden soil using kitchen scraps, yard clippings, leaves or twigs.
A good rule for deciding what to plant is to grow what you eat. If you love tomatoes, grow them. Love eggplant? Grow it! Plant the vegetables that you and your family eat, you’ll enjoy your garden more.
It’s all about location. Plant your garden where you’ll see it, not behind a garage. Years ago, veggie gardens were called the “dooryard” because they were directly outside the door. Keep it close and you’re bound to use it more often.
Yes. Try to plant things that work together as a team. Basil and garlic planted under a sprawling tomato is an ideal example. Shorter plants grown under or near taller plants create a healthy combination. Peas, carrots and lettuce, or beans, cucumbers and sunflowers make great teams, too.
Of course! Flowers can make weeding seem like less work, they add color, and they will help attract beneficial insects and birds.
Absolutely. Perennial edibles, like fruit trees, kiwi vines, blueberries and prickly pear cacti make great additions to any garden—plus, the “fruits of your labor” will grow year after year.
Did you know certain plants can help clear the air in your home? NASA’s official Clean Air Study sets the record straight. Here’s a quick list of the plants to have in your home:
The Areca Palm
The most efficient air humidifier. You can count on the Areca Palm to keep your home moist when it’s dry, like in winter.
The Lady Palm
This versatile air-purifying plant thrives in dry or humid climates, and resists most types of plant-eating insects.
The Bamboo Palm
A little higher-maintenance than the first two on this list, the Bamboo Palm thrives when kept moist (but not wet) in indirect sunlight, and is a great air purifier.
Nicknamed the “Janet Craig” after a prominent nurseryman’s daughter, the Dracaena is beautiful and versatile, with shiny deep-green leaves. It is renowned for trapping allergens in its leaves.
Other Options: Colorful Houseplants
There are some bright, colorful plants that produce pollens that are heavier and stickier. Plus, they are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Consider the Peace Lily, Marginata or English Ivy.