Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2002
Regional Report

Wait for Soil to Dry Before Planting

Wait to spade or till the garden until the soil dries out to a point where it falls apart when a lump is squeezed in the hand. Add well-composted organic matter such as compost, composted manure or composted leaves. Don’t add fresh organics because it won’t decompose in time for planting.

Plant Sweetpeas

Plant sweetpeas as early as possible. Buy high quality seeds and be sure to soak before planting.
Dig trenches 18 inches deep as soon as the weather and soil permit. Sow the seeds at the bottom of the trench, covering lightly. As the plants grow, rake in the dirt about them.

Pot Up Summer-flowering Bulbs

Pot up caladiums, cannas and tuberous begonias for summer bloom. Use clean, sterile potting mix and plant the bulbs in plastic nursery pots. Water and put in a warm area. Put under lights or in bright window. Then, when danger of frost has passed, the pots can be put directly into decorative planters outdoors.

Set Up Cold Frame

You can start cold-weather crops outdoors directly in a cold frame. Set up the frame to gather as much sun as possible. Incline it slightly to the southwest but make sure it’s protected from cold summer winds. Also be alert to bright sunny days. The frame must be vented or plants can cook.


Early spring as plants begin to emerge is a great time to fertilize. Trees, shrubs, perennials and fruits will all benefit from a side dressing of compost, composted manure or commercial fertilizer. Be careful not to get let it directly touch emerging perennials, but put a band of fertilizer around the root systems.


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