March 2018

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The Best Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

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The Best Vegetables to Plant in Early Spring

Start Them Early, but Enjoy Them for Weeks

The first vine-ripened tomato may still be a few months away, but there’s plenty to keep you busy in the vegetable garden. Take advantage of the cool, wet weather of spring to put in multiple crops of peas and lettuce. It’s also a great time to get your perennial vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, started.

 

    • Rows of growing Asparagus

      Photo: © Marie Iannotti

      There are many perennial vegetables – vegetables you can plant once and harvest for many years to come – but we only seem to grow a handful of them in our gardens. It’s true you have to devote space to them, sometimes for decades, but it’s worth it. Asparagus plants get more productive every year, and a mature harvest can last for months. Looking forward to the first tender, pencil-sized spears of asparagus poking through in the garden is a rite of spring. If you thought you didn’t likeMORE asparagus, you haven’t tried it freshly picked.

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      Rows of growing lettuce

      Carol Sharp Corbis/ Documentary/ Getty Images

      The cool, wet weather of Spring is the perfect time to grow lettuce, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Lettuce may take a little protection to get it going in the early spring, but, oh, it never tastes better than when it’s grown in the crisp spring air. You will get the earliest and longest harvest from the cut-and-come-again varieties. Lettuce may require a little frost protection in spring, but it won’t bolt, and you will probably have time for 2-3 succession plantings.

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      A vast pile of snow peas

      Emmanuelle Grimaud / Getty Images

      There’s a tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us don’t always get to take part in that tradition because of the snow covering our vegetable gardens. However, even in years when you can manage to get out there early, the peas planted later in April will quickly catch up to the peas planted in March. Peas don’t like freezing temperature, but they dislike heat worse. So don’t miss the window of opportunity. Get out there and plant a crop of your favorites, whetherMORE its shelling peas, snow peas or sugar snap peas.

      A closeup of growing rhubarb

      Photo: © Marie Iannotti

      Rhubarb is a vegetable we prepare like a fruit, and it is the first sweet “fruit” of the season. Rhubarb is another perennial gem of the vegetable garden. It really is a shame rhubarb is so underused in cooking, because it’s very easy to grow. Once you get your bed established, you can look forward to a rhubarb harvest every spring. One word of warning: the rhubarb crown quickly turns into a very dense brick that is hard to divide. If you need to move your rhubarb or want to divide theMORE plant, do it while the plant is young before it has time to develop strong roots.

  • A vast pile of spinach

    Tracy Packer Photography / Getty Images

    Spinach must be grown in cool weather, or it will quickly bolt to seed. There are varieties that claim to be bolt-resistant, but sooner or later, (usually sooner), they all go to seed. Luckily it also grows extremely quickly – which means you don’t have to wait long to enjoy it, but you’ll also have to keep planting new spinach, to extend the harvest. Getting spinach to grow is easy. Keeping your spinach growing takes some extra care, but it’s worth it. Fresh spinach is crisper, tangier andMORE more tender than any you’ll find in a cellophane bag. And it can grow in the shade of crops that will be taking off just as your spinach fades.

Dealing With Winter Damage

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Dealing With Winter Damage

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It’s early spring – time to survey the damage that winter has produced. In some areas, shrubs may still be hiding under piles of frozen snow, and could be crushed or compacted. Severed tree limbs may lie scattered across the landscape, and bark may be torn and stripped from trunks. It’s difficult to know what to tackle first, but fortunately, much of the damage is easily correctible.

Repairing Winter-Damaged Trees

When surveying and repairing winter damage, start with your trees – they are generally the most valuable additions to your property. As you survey the damage – broken limbs, torn bark, a tilting trunk – ask yourself “Is this tree salvageable or should it be removed?” If the damage is extensive, or you are unsure about how the damage may affect the tree’s overall health or future growth, hire a professional for a consultation. Replacing a severely damaged tree with a younger one, perhaps a type you like even better, may be the best solution.

If a limb is broken somewhere along its length, or damaged beyond repair, employ good pruning practices and saw off the remaining piece at the branch collar, being careful not to cut into the trunk or leave a stub. Sometimes a fallen limb may strip bark off the tree trunk. To repair this damage, cut the ragged edges of the loose bark away from the stripped area to firmly affixed healthy bark. Nature will take care of the rest. Even if the trunk of the tree is split, the tree may still be saved. For large trees, repairing this type of damage usually requires cabling and bracing done by a professional. If the tree is still young, the crotch may be pulled tightly together and tied or taped until the wound eventually heals.

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Repairing Winter-Damaged Shrubs

Shrubs can suffer the same damage as trees, including broken limbs and stripped bark. Heavy snowfall can crush smaller shrubs, and larger varieties may have their trunks or centers split from heavy snow or ice accumulation. Most shrubs are resilient, however, and slowly regain their shape as the weather warms. If branches are bent but not broken, you may tie them together to help them along and prevent further damage from late-season storms. Do not tie tightly and remove twine after about a year. Completely broken branches may be pruned away, but take care to maintain the shrub’s form and balance, keeping in mind its growth pattern so it will not look lopsided or ungainly. Again, if the damage is severe, you may need to replace the plant.

The harder the winter is, the more of a beating trees and shrubs will take. With prompt attention in early spring, however, you can easily undo much of the damage and help your landscape recover with ease.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Yard and Garden

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Yard and Garden

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The snow and ice have melted, but this winter’s wild storms have left yards across the country in need of a major spring-cleaning. Here are some ideas for how to begin, inspired by the hyper-organized folks at Uncluttered:

  1. Remove the debris. If the winter’s seemingly incessant wind, rain, and snow have done a number on your trees, start your clean-up efforts by collecting the fallen branches and scattered sticks. If your town doesn’t pick up lawn debris on a regular basis, find out if any spring collection days have been planned or if there’s a nearby drop-off location you can deliver it to. You also can rent a wood-chipper from many garden or hardware stores and turn your debris into mulch.
  2. Rake dead leaves and twigs. Last year’s leaves will make great compost, but not if they keep the grass from absorbing sunlight. Thoroughly rake the yard and garden beds and, if you don’t plan to compost, investigate whether your town will be making special arrangements to collect bagged leaves.
  3. Prune and trim. Prune back weatherworn bushes and hedges as well as any perennials that look overgrown. Trim damaged tree limbs and branches that you can reach, and make arrangements for a professional tree-trimmer to take care of the rest.
  4. Map out landscaping and garden plans. If you’re going to make any changes to your current landscaping, make a sketch of your lawn indicating what sort of trees, shrubs, or plants you’d like to add. Even for DIY types, it’s always a good idea to consult with a gardener or landscaper at the nursery before making any final decisions or purchases.
  5. Start planting. Check the planting dates on your new purchases. Any plants, trees or shrubbery hearty enough to survive early spring’s still-cool nights can be put in the ground now.

Source: Unclutterer.com