March 13 to 19, 2017: Cold snap! Icy temps and snow flurries have struck the garden, but we can still feel spring on the way. This week, we’re nurturing seedlings indoors and pruning trees outdoors.
In fruit and vegetable gardens, we’re
- nurturing our cool-weather seedlings. Seedlings need food, so feed them with a half-dose of compost tea or organic fertilizer once a week. (Don’t forget to keep them watered!)
- using a soil thermometer to check soil temperature. Use this chart as a guide to soil temperatures. Remember, no matter what the soil temperature is, we still need to wait until the soil dries before we plant. Squeeze a handful of soil. If it stays in a ball when you poke at it, it’s still too wet to plant. Wait until it crumbles easily.
- sowing peppers and eggplants indoors. Tomatoes grow faster, so we’ll start those in a few weeks.
In other parts of the garden, we’re
- pruning small-stature deciduous trees.
- doing spring garden cleanup. We’re cutting down ornamental grasses and spent perennials, raking out beds, and tidying for spring. But where possible, we’re leaving plant debris standing a little longer to give hibernating insects a chance to emerge.
- cutting back red- and yellow-twig dogwood stems to get the best color next winter. You might cut the entire shrub down, or just cut down about 1/3 of the stems. We’ve done both! We’re also cutting back willow. Once this cold snap is through, we’ll start cutting down slightly more tender shrubs like butterfly bush (Buddleia app.), blue-mist shrub (Caryopteris spp.), and beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.).
- scrubbing out and filling bird feeders to welcome birds returning to the garden.
- turning the compost heap.