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Your spring gardening chore checklist

Thursday, April 28, 2016

By Peg Zeleznik

OSU Extension master gardener volunteer

It’s that time of year again – the snow has stopped falling (hopefully) and we gardeners have paged through all the seed and plant catalogs, and our mind’s eye is filled with visions of beautiful new flowers, larger vegetables and the long warm days of spring and summer.

Before you get too far ahead, your garden, like mine, probably needs a little work. Here’s my to-do list to help you cover the basics:

First, did you put your gardens to bed properly last fall? If not, you will need to do some basic cleaning and tidying before you start planting. Rake out any leaves you missed last fall. Put them in the compost pile. Pull out those dead annuals and cut back any debris from your perennials that died back over the winter. Check your perennials for winter heaving. If any roots are visible, you can re-set them as needed. Turn your mulch to help it dry out and keep fungus growth down.

Second, do you remember the last time you had your soil tested? The experts recommend getting a new soil test every two to three years. This goes for everyone – flower and vegetable growers as well as those just wanting a beautiful lawn. You can call or stop by the extension office for information on how to take the samples. For a reasonable fee, we send your sample to the labs for testing and, within two to three weeks, you will receive a copy of your report along with any recommendations the lab has for your gardens. The recommendations are specific to your needs – flowers, mixed vegetables, roses or just a nice lawn. The extension office will also receive a copy of the report. Just call our clinic if you have any questions or need help with the recommendations.

Third, it’s time to turn the compost pile or start one with everything you cleaned up for step one. Composting is an easy and free way to add nutrients back into the soil – it just takes a little time and energy!

Fourth, take advantage of moist soil conditions in the spring to transplant. Now is the time to divide and/or transplant most perennials. Give them some space to make this their best year ever! If you have too many, share with your friends and neighbors!

Finally, to the dreaded weeds – aaarrrggghhh! Weeds are the bane of every gardener’s existence! If you can, identify the weeds giving you the most trouble. Knowing how they grow will help you destroy them. Some weeds are best controlled with hand pulling, some may need an herbicide to eradicate and still others can be treated with a pre-emergent to prevent seed germination. Each method has pros and cons, which is why it’s best to identify the pesky little buggers before you start to treat. If you need help with identification, you can always bring a sample, well-wrapped, into our plant and pest clinic.