When Can I Plant…Mid-Winter FAQ's and Some Fun

When Can I Plant…Mid-Winter FAQ's and Some Fun

As the days thankfully get longer and lighter, we all get spring fever. When the phone rings at the garden center it’s often someone who is anxious to focus on the growing season ahead. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we are hearing.

Q. How early can I plant new shrubs and trees?

A.  On Cape Cod you can plant as soon as you see the stock flooding into the garden centers. We usually get our first shipments of nursery stock in early to mid-April, depending on the weather. If it’s an early spring (please, please, please) it could even be at the end of March. In some other areas of the country you’ll need to wait until the soils aren’t so wet. In general it’s better not to dig and “work” saturated soil. On the Cape, however, our soils tend to be so sandy that this isn’t a concern. Note that those few lucky or unlucky folks on the Cape who have real loam or clay might need to wait until they know that the soil on their property isn’t really wet.

Q. What seeds can I start now, in mid to late February?

A. You can start peppers and most perennial seeds indoors now if you have gro-lights or a really sunny window. At the end of the month you can start the cool-weather veggies and even tomatoes provided you have good light. The earlier you get seedlings started, the more light you’ll need to prevent them from growing weak and leggy. So if you don’t have lights, a greenhouse, or a sunny south-facing window, wait a little longer before you get them going.

Q. What can I do to help my indoor plants at this time of year? Mine are starting to look sad.

A. If they are small enough to put into the shower, give them a good rise this way with the water cool but not cold to the touch. After two minutes under this “rain shower” let them drain in the tub and then spray with insecticidal soap to get rid of any brewing pests. The day after their shower apply some fertilizer.

Q. How soon can I fertilize my lawn?

A. Whoa, Nellie! You’re such eager beavers on Cape Cod! Although your willingness to get out there is to be commended, you don’t want to put any sort of fertilizer down on a lawn until spring. Even after the snow melts it will take some time for the ground to thaw, and you don’t want that fertilizer washing off of your lawn before the grass can use it. If you’re using a synthetic fertilizer you’ll want to wait even longer because the turf isn’t ready to start using those nutrients until the ground is warmer. If you want to get your hands in the dirt, maybe we could interest you in some nice houseplants that can be repotted?

Some of our customers come in for “air plants” (Tillandsia) at this time of year because they have no more room for houseplants in pots!

Cape Cod isn’t the only place where people are anxious for spring. If you’re leaning toward the growing season, you’ll like this song by Wisconsin singer/songwriters, Lou and Peter Berryman. It is from their ‘Double Yodel’ CD.

Pushing Spring Tango

It isn’t forty four degrees
There is no green yet in the trees
It may be March but even so
There’s still a foot of snow
Tonight it’s gonna freeze

What green there is is in her thumb
As her seed catalogs have come
She can take those five below nights
As long as she has growlights
Her life is not so glum

Don’t try to tell her she has to wait for robins to sing
Don’t ever say she’s jumping the gun by pushing the spring
She’ll wave a dirty trowel and say so what if I do
If you had spent your life in Wisconsin, you’d push it too

You could try wooing her with wine
Although you’ll have to stand in line
Behind a tuber in a tub
An ornamental shrub
And cuttings off a vine

Don’t bring her poems of romance
But know the names of all her plants
Don’t buy a diamond to surprise her
But bring some fertilizer
And you may stand a chance

Now you are nothing in her eyes
If you don’t photosynthesize
If you have leaves instead of hair
Then you may get somewhere
I doubt it otherwise

Don’t bother opening your shirt
Unless you’re green she doesn’t flirt
She will ignore your conversation
Her mind’s on germination
Her heart is in the dirt…

Clearly it isn’t just in Wisconsin where people are “pushing the spring.”

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