04 May 2013

Early Spring Don'ts

So, it's been warm, daytime temperatures in the mid-teens Celsius, and your green thumb is getting anxious.  You're dying to get out there and dig in the soil, fertilize, remove mulch....DON'T....not yet anyway.

The soil temperature is not nearly so warm as the air temperature and you are likely to do more damage than anything, particularly if mother nature sends a little frost your way, and you know she will.  (unless you live in the tropics or the southern states, then ignore this post.  Unless you like feeling sorry for those of us who cannot fathom being able to garden year-round :P)

  • Do not re-seed your lawn.  The soil temperature must be at least 15 degrees Celsius for lawn seed to germinate.  Anyone have a soil thermometer handy?  Frank Ferragine once commented that he'd read in an old gardening magazine of the bare bum test...I think that goes without explanation.
  • Don't plant tender annuals.
  • Don't prune anything that flowers in the spring.
  • Don't fertilize until plants are actively growing.
  • Don't remove rose collars.
Look for last frost dates in your area.  In Toronto that can be as early as the beginning of May, but in Alberta, especially Calgary and north, you are looking at the end of May.  Oh, and Vancouver, we won't even mention...cough .... their last frost date is ?  Do they even have one?  (jealous!)  Once your area has seen it's last perceived frost date, then you may get out there to start on those spring tasks.  In the meantime, how about a walk?

I know some farmers plant by the phases of the moon.  Catch my post on this at:  Planting By Moon Phases.  It's rather an interesting theory but I have yet to test its validity.  Has anyone out there tried it?


Clipped Wings said...

I've seen a last frost date in May for Nashville, but this year in my gardens the last frost date was just after the end of March. Can you imagine? My problem with spring gardening here is finding a couple of dry days (on my days off from work), when we can plant new and move old plants :)

Lavender Cottage said...

Our frost date is technically the 24th of May but by Mother's Day I'm planting annuals and not had a problem. It's been nice and warm here all week and to continue on.

Anonymous said...

I think i might be in trouble, pruned some of my trees last weekend.
I am glad i checked because i was thinking of fertilizing.

Shirley said...

Anonymous, pruning spring flowering trees prior to blooming, lilacs for example, cuts off those blossom buds the tree worked on all last season to develop for bloom this spring. If you didn't prune too far, you may get a few, just not the mass of blooms you'd get if you waited for them to bloom prior to pruning.

And really, there is no point in fertilizing that which is not actively growing. Wait until you see active growth to fertilize then the fertilizer can do what it is designed to do, fortify that which is growing. :)

Shirley said...

Clipped Wings, lucky you with an early frost date!! We've been fooled here in the past only to get a frost in May when we think we're beyond the danger. I hope the weather cooperates with you and your schedule so you can get out there and enjoy your garden.

Shirley said...

Dear Lavender Cottage, some annuals can take a little frost. Pansies can be planted out in April as long as the lows are in the negative single digits. They can take some frost but not a hard frost. I'm sure there are a few other annuals that will withstand the cool nights. What do you recommend in your area?

Shirley said...

Lavender Cottage, are you in zone 5a?

Here in Edmonton Alberta, we are a zone 3b. It must be nice to garden in 5a with so many more plant varieties available as hardy in your area! I am a little jealous.


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