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WHAT’S BLOOMIN’ A COLUMN BY JANE FORD

Gardening column: Start now to get plants ready for spring weather

Friday, February 28, 2014 - 7:52 am

A friend a few miles south of Fort Wayne just informed me that below her living room window where the snow has melted a bit, little green shoots from her bulbs planted there are appearing and announcing that spring is on its way. With that in mind, we'll talk about things we need to do in preparation for when we are on the bright, warmer side of this winter weather.

Also, if you are interested in a variety of basic gardening subjects this spring, Ricky Kemery, horticulture educator at the Allen County Extension, is offering classes at two branch libraries and the extension office at 4001 Crescent Ave. (on the campus of IPFW). Here is a schedule of those classes if you would like to attend. The information is always research-based, and there will be plenty of time for questions. If you need more information, call 481-6826 and ask for him.

•The Realistic Perennial Garden, 6:30-7:30 p.m. April 14, Aboite branch library, 5630 Coventry Lane.

•Growing Healthy and Nutritious Vegetables – the Organic Way, 6:30-7:30 p.m. April 28, Pontiac branch library, 2215 S. Hanna St.

•Backyard Invaders – Dealing with Invasive Plants, 10 a.m. April 26, extension office, 4001 Crescent Ave.

•Basic Tree Care, 10 a.m. May 3, extension office, 4001 Crescent Ave.

Start seeds for warm-weather vegetables and flowers this week and next so they will be ready to plant in the ground or containers in mid-May.

Begin a regular watering schedule and fertilize your houseplants as soon as you see new growth begin – it should be soon. If the plant has become pot bound, this is the right time to transplant into a larger container with fresh soil and a good time-released fertilizer.

If you purchase tomato transplants (or any warm-weather seedlings) at the Home and Garden Show, you will need to transplant them into larger and larger containers and keep them in a very warm location and under a grow light if possible until they can be planted outside in mid-May.

Some plants, such as roses, will begin to bud early, so if you have them covered for winter protection, check to see whether they need to be uncovered as temperatures move into the 40s.

Because of the extreme cold, many homeowners covered certain plants as added winter protection. Be sure to uncover them as the temperatures move into the 30s and 40s.

Check your summer blooming bulbs for decay and damage, and discard the bad ones.

As the days warm up, March is a good time to begin to prune nonflowering shrubs and trees.

Wait to prune spring flowering plants until after they have bloomed. Pruning them right after the blooms fade will give the shrub, vine or tree time to set bloom for the next season.

The season may be later this year because of the very severe cold winter we've experienced, so keep an eye on soil and make certain it is completely thawed, not too wet or soggy, before amending, prepping and planting seed for the cool-weather vegetable garden. If the soil is too wet or cold, the seeds will not germinate and will probably rot. Soil temperature for even cool-weather vegetables needs to be in the 40s and 50s for proper germination to take place.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@frontier .com. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.