Spring has sprung: time to scratch that gardening itch

Warm spring days have finally arrived releasing people from the confines of the house to enjoy the sunshine.

Warm spring days have finally arrived releasing people from the confines of the house to enjoy the sunshine.

People are itching to do spring yard work but they need to be cautious.

Gardening is physical exercise. Do not over exert the first time out. Start slowly.

Change tasks often to avoid repetitive movements that can cause injury.

Be sure to take breaks and drink plenty of water. Careless injuries take the fun out of gardening.

Stay off the wet soil, this includes the lawn. Walking on wet soil causes it to compact into hard lumps which are hard for roots to penetrate. Constant traffic on any one area of grass will injure and kill the plants. In the spring, new growth is even more susceptible to damage.

Raking the lawn when it is wet will tear out part of the existing plants. There will be plenty of time to rake the grass once the ground has thawed and excess water has left the surface.

Once the lawn is dry it is time to rake to remove the dead grass and excess thatch. Compost this material or take it to the transfer station where it will be composted.

Puddles and melting snow are a common sight but it doesn’t mean that water is reaching the plants that desperately need water.

At this time of year water the evergreens, cedars and junipers. These plants have likely depleted the majority of the moisture that was once held in their roots.

A quick rinse will clean of the foliage allowing the conversion process it to be more efficient.

A slow trickle at the base of the plant will supply water to the surface roots. Give extra water to plants that are exposed to the south or west sun where the air is warmer and sun hotter.

Keep feeding the birds. Warm weather is here but their natural food supply has not been replenished. Birds are also creatures of habit; they use the same food source as long as it is available.

Community gardens and garden plots are now available to rent. Check to see what is available close to home. Take the 160-km challenge.

If seeds haven’t been purchased, do so now. Store all garden seeds in a cool, dry area until they are needed in May.

Bagged perennials, bulbs, corms and roses are for sale in some stores. Check to see if the plants are alive before making a purchase.

If there is evidence of the root has sprouted and died, leave it in the store. Early blooms plant roots such as dahlias and cannas need to be planted in pots and planted outside when all danger of frost is past. Gladiolus will stay dormant if they are placed in a cool area. Once the ground starts to warm they should be planted in the garden.

Branches of trees and shrubs can be forced into leaf and flower now to add colour to the house. Choose branches that need to be removed from a plant that flowers early in the season. May days, crab apples, nanking cherries and double-flowering plums work well. Place them in water in a cool spot in the building until the buds start to show colour. Once the buds have broken, move them into a warm area.

Change the water every few days, re-cutting the stems when they are placed back in the container.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at your_garden@hotmail.com

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