By Darlene Underwood
Hallelujah! Spring has arrived! Cold weather is in our rearview mirror, and a more intense gardening season is ours to enjoy for months to come. If your New Year’s fitness resolutions have fallen by the wayside, it’s not too late to get back on track by working outdoors. Gardening provides an opportunity to exercise in the warmth and sunshine and can offer a workout as good as any gym visit.
With spring bringing beautiful weather, it’s time to get outside and tackle the following tasks in your garden and flower beds:
• If you didn’t fertilize your lawn last month, there’s still time. Fertilize once your grass starts to green up, and use appropriate weed control before temperatures get too hot.
• Continue to prune and shape flowering shrubs and trees this month after they bloom.
• Continue dividing and transplanting overcrowded perennial herbs and flowers. Start propagating plants by taking 4- to 6-inch softwood cuttings of woody plants for rooting.
• Stake tomatoes when planting with a rigid stake at least 5 feet tall; this will keep the fruit off the ground. Mulch around each plant to control weeds and keep soil from splashing on lower leaves, helping to stem soil-borne diseases.
• Houseplants should be repotted if necessary and slowly transitioned to the sun when moved outdoors.
• Check for signs of disease and insect damage. Always choose the most environmentally friendly method if any control is necessary.
• Feed spring-flowering bulbs with bulb fertilizer as long as foliage is green to provide nutrients needed for good bulb development. Do not cut back green foliage, as it feeds bulbs naturally and ensures more success of reblooming next year.
Darlene Underwood is a Mississippi master gardener, nationally accredited flower show judge and Garden Clubs of Mississippi third vice president. Reach her at darlene. firstname.lastname@example.org