Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Western Mountains and High Plains

March, 2006
Regional Report

Get a Head Start on the Season

To get a jump on the on the spring season, start seeds of cool-season crops including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower indoors or in a greenhouse. In six to eight weeks these seedlings should be ready to set outdoors in the vegetable garden.

Cut Back Geraniums

Cut back overwintering geraniums that have stretched to the ceiling by one half to induce vigorous new growth and keep the plants more shapely. Fertilize every three to four weeks with a dilute solution of plant food. If you have the space, this would be a good time to take new cuttings from indoor plants and root them in a 50/50 mixture of perlite and milled sphagnum peat moss.

Prepare Soil

If you didn't get a chance to amend your garden soil last fall, now is a good time to add compost. This will improve soil structure and water retention. Spread 2 to 3 inches of compost over the garden and incorporate it deeply (6 to 8 inches) by rototilling or hand spading. Avoid using fresh manure, which will introduce soluble salts that can damage roots; or ground bark or wood products that deplete the soil of nitrogen as they break down. Manure and wood products should be composted first, and then they can be safely added to the soil.

Hoe Weeds

Enjoy the pleasant outdoor weather while controlling weeds whenever possible. Use a scuffle hoe on tiny weeds early in the day so the sun will dehydrate their tiny roots. If the soil has started to dry out, thoroughly water areas where larger weeds reside to loosen their roots' grip in the soil. This will make it easier to pull the weeds out by hand or to dig them with a shovel.

Check Shrubs and Trees for Pests

Take a walk through the garden and landscape to check for overwintering insect eggs or pests, including oystershell scale. A properly timed application of dormant oil spray can control these pests so they won't cause major damage later in the spring or summer.


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