A young apple tree with fire blight. (Betty Cahill, Special to The Denver Post)
We’re only six Mondays away from the spring solstice on March 20. The outdoor gardening season countdown has begun. This month’s focus is on getting the indoor seed-starting supplies ready to go. Plus, get going now on outdoor winter pruning on trees and shrubs, and keep your Valentine’s Day flowers fresh with these easy-care tips.
Thinking ahead to the outdoor growing season, decide now (or very soon) whether to buy ornamental plants and vegetables from a garden center or if you will start your own from seed (you can do both). Timing matters if you’re seeding indoors. Cool season vegetables — including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, celery and Brussels sprouts — should be started now in February for transplanting out into the garden in March to April. Some ornamental seeds need 10 to 12 weeks to grow to transplant size. Seed these indoors soon for spring planting: rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), craspedia (drumstick flower), delphinium, polygonum, asclepias (butterfly weed), salvia, snapdragon, stock, perennial sunflowers, verbena, angelonia, hollyhock, viola and impatiens.
Check the expiration date on your cache of seeds. Seeds have shelf lives, especially if not stored well. If kept cool and dry in airtight containers, like canning or baby food jars, many seeds can last up to five years. Onion seeds are viable for one year; corn, peppers, carrots and beans two to three years; and cucumber, pumpkin, radish and tomatoes, four to five years. Annual flower seeds are viable anywhere from one to three years; perennial seeds for two to four years.
Inventory and purchase indoor seed-starting supplies: potting soil, heat mats, light bulbs and seed trays. Sterilize previously used trays with a 10:1 water-to-bleach solution.
Check out indoor seeding and planting windows for ornamental annuals, herbs, plus cool and warm-season vegetables here.
Once a month, examine your fall stored tubers like cannas, begonias, gladiolas and dahlias; toss any that are moldy or rotted.
A topped tree, after one year’s growth. (Betty Cahill, Special to The Denver Post)
Outdoor Tree and Shrub Pruning
Tree and shrub pruning can seem daunting: Do you need to prune? When to prune? How much to prune? Careful, correct, well-timed pruning will maintain tree and shrub health, beauty, value and, in the long run, involve less, not more, maintenance. The goal is to enhance the plant’s natural shape and keep the branches headed in the right …
Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle