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Getting Ready for Spring 2013

19 Aug 2013 Brian Brady 0 Comment

indoor gardens

1. Start indoors
Start some flowers and other garden plants from seeds weeks before it’s warm enough to transplant them outside. Plants started from seed generally cost only a fraction of what you’ll pay at a nursery for those little plastic containers of seedlings once the gardening season is under way.
Cut the bottoms out of used plastic jugs to protect new seedlings.
Determining when to start plants indoors depends on when the last cold snap typically occurs where you live, and then counting backward based on the type of plants you want to grow. Seed packets of those plants that are commonly started indoors usually contain special instructions for when and how to do it.
You can repurpose many would-be throwaway items — including cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, newspaper, egg cartons and even half-eggshells — to serve as miniature, biodegradable seedling pots. Some of the most common plants started from seeds indoors include tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, eggplant and a wide variety of flowers and herbs. If you’re short on sunny window space (the other necessity for starting most plants indoors) consider building a simple cold frame in your yard as a place to start seeds up to six weeks before planting season. You can find designs online of how to build cold frames out of inexpensive materials like bales of hay, scrap lumber, plastic sheeting and old windows.
2. Declare an early war on weeds
When the first signs of new growth and plants coming back to life start to emerge in the spring, you can bet a wide variety of weeds will be among them. As soon as the soil is no longer frozen — usually weeks before the last cold snap— start cultivating the surface soil in areas prone to weed growth to make it harder for them to take root, and then mulch over those areas immediately to keep weeds at bay. Also, pull hard-to-kill weeds and plants (wearing protective gloves, of course). Weeds are only going to get bigger, stronger and harder to eradicate as the growing season continues, so literally nipping them in the bud will save you time and expensive herbicides in the months ahead.

3. Remove leaves and yard debris
If you never got around to raking up all of the leaves and other yard debris last year, that may be OK. In some situations, leaves can serve as a protective mulch that can help some plants survive the harsh winter weather. But as new plant growth begins, matted leaves from last year can inhibit plant growth and promote pest problems and some plant diseases. Consider composting last year’s leaves and yard debris — they’re already well on their way to decomposing — or shred them to use as mulch. If you have a mulching lawn mower, simply mow over any leaves still on the lawn so that the nutrients can return to the soil.

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