Get started now on a great garden
TRACY HODGEAs we move into February and our weather begins to warm, we are reminded that spring is just around the corner. February and March are great months to evaluate your garden to determine what your needs will be this season. Taking the time to determine where you will need to do a bit more work will be well worth the effort when your garden is in full swing.
Published: January 30, 2013
Published: January 30, 2013
According to the American Nursery & Landscape Association, or ANLA, early spring is the perfect time to develop your lawn maintenance strategies in central Florida. To accomplish this goal, you must determine the needs of your soil.
Performing soil tests can determine the pH and reveal any nutritional deficiencies of your soil. Many plant nurseries and garden centers sell test kits that are fairly accurate and easy to use. For an in-depth soil analysis, contact your local extension office.
Once you have all the information you need, you can plan mowing frequencies and fertilization based on your soil needs. You may also want to turn your soil during this time of year. Loosening the soil in flower beds and gardens will aerate the soil and increase nutrient uptake in plant roots.
This is also a great time to clean gardening tools to be sure they are safe and rust-free. Sharpen any dull tools so they are ready when you need them. To prevent the spread of bacterial or fungal diseases, wash all plastic pots used for transporting plants in a bleach solution.
Warm weather will also encourage weed growth, so now is the time to eliminate them. Pulling weeds before they become well-established will help you keep them under control and reduce insect infestations.
Pruning should also be done during the early spring for best results. According to the professionals at Sun State Landscaping, plants that produce flowers on this year's growth should be pruned during the early part of February, while they are dormant. Pruning just before the first spring growth flush will encourage plants to grow at a healthy rate.
If you want to keep growth slower or you need to keep plants a smaller size, prune immediately after each growth flush. When pruning, first remove all dead or diseased branches. If plants appear diseased, be sure to clean your tools with an alcohol solution before pruning other plants.
It is usually best to clean gardening tools between each plant, just to keep diseases from spreading. Improper pruning can cause serious problems in your garden. Fall and winter pruning is not recommended because it will stimulate new, succulent growth that is easily damaged during late winter frosts. Wounds made during pruning will also heal best when done during spring, as well. This is an important part of reducing insect infestations, bacteria and fungal diseases.
Planting perennials in the spring will help them become established before our summer heat arrives. These plants look lovely when planted in masses with ornamental grasses. These plants will provide a riot of color that will add interest and variety to your landscape setting. Early spring is also a great time to start that herb garden you have always wanted. You can have a small indoor container herb garden or plant a larger one outdoors.
February and March are great months to make any necessary improvements to your compost bins. If you have never had your own composting schedule, this is an ideal time to start. By recycling your own organic matter, you will add nutrients to the soil and improve growing conditions. Most garden centers have kits that can help you get started in composting. You will save money on fertilizer and keep our environment safe by using your own compost.
Surveying your garden before spring arrives will help you identify any small problems before they become bigger ones. Making improvements to your soil will also help you grow beautiful and healthy plants. Taking the time to perform these simple tasks will put you well on your way to a beautiful central Florida garden.