Archive for Thursday, March 25, 2004

Planting season around corner

Warm weather doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to get in the garden

March 25, 2004

Christy Carlisle knows the recent warm weather is tempting gardeners, but she encourages people not to get overzealous with their planting just yet.

"I'm just as anxious to get my garden in as anyone else," Carlisle, owner of C.Designs Floral and Garden, said. "But now is the time to start seeds indoors."

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Those anxious to get in their gardens, she said, should be tilling and adding manure and compost to have the ground ready for the plants.

Though it's too early to put many plants in the ground, she said there are some -- typical early spring plants like potatoes, carrots, radishes, broccoli and pansies -- that can go into the ground now. Berries, fruit trees and dormant perennials can also be planted if the ground is not too wet.

But others, including geraniums, petunias and other annuals and heavy bloomers, should not be planted for at least a few more weeks.

"Annuals will freeze at 36 degrees, and that's windchill, not actual temperature," she said.

Frost will also damage or kill the plants, she said, so gardeners should wait for more consistent, warmer weather to begin planting annuals.

"Temperature-wise, we're behind what we have been the last few years. We're almost six weeks behind this year from last year," she said. "That's not to say we're not right on track, though."

With the cooler weather, she said, flowers like lilacs and peonies should bloom like expected in late spring, instead of weeks earlier like in recent years.

The moisture the area has received in the past few months, she said, will help with this year's growing season.

"There is more moisture this year than there has been the past five years," she said. "It ought to be a great growing year."

Once it's time to plant, there are several things to keep in mind, but Carlisle said one of the most important is fertilizer use. She said often people believe the key to having successful gardens is the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

"The number one call is people putting on too much fertilizer and burning their plants," she said. "This is one case where more is not better.

"Don't be overzealous with your fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides," she said. "Most plants don't need a weekly regiment or a constant use of fertilizer."

She said most grounds already have adequate nutrients. The time to use fertilizers, she said, is when the plant is ready to produce fruit or blooms, but not after it has bloomed.

Carlisle said if gardeners don't get overanxious, wait for the proper planting time and control their use of fertilizers, she believes the weather and moisture will cooperate to produce successful gardens.

"This ought to be one of the best years in many, many years," she said.

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