Kick Start Your Garden in Late Winter

Chores you can perform in the garden to help prepare for spring

A sure sign of spring is when the winter aconites start blooming; one of the first blooms in the garden.

  1. Remove extra mulch from plants. If freezing weather is pretty much done for the season, you can begin to pull back any extra mulch you may have applied to tender plants last fall. If there is any question you may have unusually cold weather, than leave the mulch be. A good indication for me is if I start seeing new growth on early spring plants and bulbs, then I go ahead and start removing the mulch. Read more about how to mulch your plants effectively here.
  2. Clean up winter die back on perennials. Once the snow has completely melted and the ground is not too saturated with water, it's safe to walk between the plants and cut down and rake up any winter die back and debris. If you've got standing water, wait a week or two to allow the garden beds to dry up a bit. Be careful not to step on emerging perennials or bulbs.
  3. Spread compost. After you've cleaned up and pulled back the mulch is a great time to add compost to the garden beds. If you do this regularly an inch should do it, but if your soil is still in need of some help add up to three inches at a time. Just be careful that you don't bury newly emerging plants too deeply. Find out how to make your own compost here.

  4. Move and divide perennials. When plants are still dormant or just emerging from their winter's sleep is an excellent time to move and divide perennials. Plants are very easy to move at this time because the soil is moist and there isn't much foliage to deal with. Read more about dividing perennials here.
  5. Fertilize. Nothing gets plants off to a good start more than healthy fertile soil. I find that regularly applied compost does the trick for me. But flowering plants like roses and clematis can often benefit from additional fertilizer. Use a well balanced organic fertilizer appropriate for the plants in question and work it into the soil around the base of each plant and then water it in well. I save myself a step by fertilizing on a day it will be raining. Check out some of my favorite fertilizer recipes here.

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