Times Standard (Eureka)

Getting ready for spring

- Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticultu­rist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at terrykrame­r90@gmail.com.

Lately we have had a few lovely false spring days. Just one or two here and there, but enough to whet the gardening appetite. Stormy days remind us that it is still winter, yet a pleasant Sunday afternoon with the blooming daffodils gives us a lift. Here is what I like to do on a false spring day in the garden:

Clean up: Not the most glamorous, or happiest of chores, but it sure does feel good to get out to the porch, patio or deck and do the spring cleaning early on. The weather has been great for that. Emptying containers of old soil, cleaning up solid surfaces with a stiff brush and cleaner brightens up an area. Raking out dead leaves from shrubs, cleaning up the perennial beds and trimming back weeds and grass makes the garden sparkle.

Mulch: Simply refreshing older mulched beds does wonders to perk things up in the garden. It also smothers seedlings that are popping up due to the recent warm weather.

Take control: The best way to take control of your garden from ravaging slugs and snails is to bait now with organic slug bait. Warm days bring them out hungrier than ever. Bait now and every three weeks after.

Transplant: If you are growing patio shrubs and trees sun containers, now is the time to pull them out of their containers and repot, if necessary. While Japanese maples are well suited for container growing, they do need to be repotted now and then. Now is a good time to get going.

Feed: Certain plants do benefit from feeding these days. Feed roses with 4-4-4 natural fertilizer and dollops of compost. Some folks also like to use alfalfa pellets. Then apply fresh mulch. These slow release nutrients will be available to hungry plant roots next month when weather warms further.

When blueberrie­s begin to bloom it is time to feed, also. Cottonseed meal and blood meal are natural fertilizer­s high in nitrogen. Blueberrie­s need this. Also, this is a good time to top dress plants with peat moss and aged fir sawdust for mulch. There are also packaged acid planter mixes that will do the trick.

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