Is This Really Spring?

As I was preparing this newsletter, it occurred to me just how often gardening includes waiting… waiting for the rain; waiting for the seeds to sprout; waiting for the plants to mature. In our world of instant-downloads and instant-access, gardening provides a fresh respite of quiet, patient waiting. As the perennial plants poke up through the soil and the tree buds swell with very little help from me, I am filled with that spring sense of renewal – and a renewed determination to be patient. To everything there is a season. –Ecc.3:1. Let me confess, though, that I’m really looking forward to a warm evening on the patio and some garden fresh tomatoes!

If you are also itching to get your hands dirty doing some gardening, here’s a few things you can do now:

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  • Plant a tree! According to CSU Extension and the Colorado State Forest Service, “Optimal periods for planting trees in Colorado are spring (March 15 to June 15) and fall (Sept. 1 to Oct. 15), when outdoor temperatures are not so extreme.” Below, I’ll give you some tips on shopping for a tree. Planting it, however, involves more than just digging a big hole. Check these excellent resources for tips on planting a tree: Colorado State Forest Service and CSU Extension.
  • Plant cool season vegetables like peas, lettuce and spinach. These can be sowed directly into the garden. While it’s not required, some type of row-cover or frost fabric over your seedlings will encourage quicker growth (because “patience” is hard!).
  • Start tomato, pumpkin, and herb seeds indoors.
  • Core aerate the lawn. Because the soil here is heavy clay, turf grass appreciates this process of loosening the soil. The soil plugs left behind don’t need to be removed.

There are a few other tasks for which you should exercise your patience:

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  • Hold off on fertilizing the lawn until May when it is actively growing and can absorb the fertilizer nutrients.
  • Wait to turn on your sprinkler system until we’re past the danger of a hard freeze – late April or early May. Check the soil by poking in a screwdriver before watering.
  • Postpone dividing your summer and fall-blooming perennials a few more weeks. In general, you want to avoid trying to divide any perennials when they’re in bloom. Spring is a good time to divide Coneflower, Geranium, and Daylilies. You want to be sure they’ve emerged from dormancy and are growing strong before disturbing the roots.
How to: Shop for a tree
How-to: Shop for Perennial Plants