I’ve got the itch.
No, it’s not fleas or bed-bugs or anything like that — it’s the itch for spring. After just returning from South Carolina and seeing all the freshly planted spring flowers blooming in beds and borders and pots it creates an anxiety that every gardener gets this time of year. I go for golf but can’t help but admire all the flowers and the signs of spring about this time of year in the South.
Of course, pansies are the predominant sightings because they are the hardiest and can withstand the colder 30s and 40s temperatures at night. Daytime temps reached into the 70s and even lower 80s one day.
Pansies, however, aren’t the only blooms seen while on my trip. Petunias were spotted on numerous occasions along with alyssum and the usual spring blooms — daffodils, tulips and crocus. The most unusual observation though was apple trees in blossom — a first for me in South Carolina this time of year.
What this all boils down to is spring fever for us northerners. We all get the itch about this time of year with only a month or two to go until we too can get out in our gardens and feel the soil sift through our fingers.
Our winter thus far has been unusual to say the least with only a smattering of snow and no sub-zero weather. Of course, the snow season isn’t over yet and the cold can be a dagger in the heart sometimes. We’ve had occasions when it’s snowed all through April and have had heavy frosts, believe it or not, in late May.
I remember well in the late ’90s, while visiting my son in Fort Wayne for a special occasion in late May, returning to the garden center only to find major damage from an unusual late frost. I was heart-broken and couldn’t believe this could happen this late in May — but it did.
We never know what mother-nature has in store — we only focus on the normal things that should occur each spring, hence the heartbreak when a freak thing happens.
The first of March is the proper time to start planning your spring garden by putting on paper your “wants.” This includes research of different and new varieties of vegetables and flowers.
Each year every developer of new strains of plants will entice the public with their new hybrids and up-ticks of their already popular varieties that have been proven winners to the gardening public; each purported to be a little more outstanding than last years whether it be bigger blooms, larger fruits, more colorful, or quicker to mature.
Try something this year that is new to you. All gardeners like to be a little adventurous each year with new plants; maybe a tomato that is advertised to mature in 45 to 50 days instead of the usual 65 to 70, or a flower that normally is a single flat blossom that has been hybridized to form a furled double bloom.
Have you ever longed for your own asparagus? It will take space as plants require 5-foot rows. Dig trenches 6 inches deep in soil rich in humus and well-drained and moist — but not wet. Asparagus likes moist but never wet soil. Apply about 1 pound. of 0-46-0 (triple superphosphate) or 2 pounds of 0-20-0 (superphosphate) per 50 feet of row in the bottom of the trench before planting- this will give them the boost they need to develop healthy robust plants.
Plant crowns 18 inches apart in the trench and cover, but don’t pack, with rich humus. Year-end plants should be left intact to over-winter and removed the following spring by mowing or removing as short as possible.
The first year’s crop should be ignored to allow for full development. The second year plan on harvesting for four to six weeks and the following years harvest for eight to 10 weeks. Asparagus crops are typically planted to last 12 to 15 years so this should be a consideration when planning. A north spot in the garden is ideal to prevent shading other smaller plants. Plant all male plants for the best performance and higher yields.
THE DIRT ON GARDENING
I’ve got the itch.
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