For a gardener, nothing gets us up in the morning like upcoming growing seasons or attending a flower and garden show during this time. If you are familiar with this show, you will know that there are a few that rival the Philadelphia Flower Show, which happens in march and is known for being the worlds longest running and largest indoor flower show.
I have attended the show almost every year for the last 2 decades. I remember the first year I went, I came home energized and ready to begin gardening right away, just to find that there were around 3 inches of snow on the ground. It was too early, or at least that is what I thought. In the following years, I learned that there are a lot of things that you can do to start gardening season before the frost, and that will save you time and money.
Get an Early Start Indoors
Some plants and flowers should be started as seeds weeks prior to it becoming warm enough to transplant them outside. Plants that are started from seeds will normally cost a lot less than what you will pay at a nursery for those seedling containers once gardening season begins.
Cut the bottoms out of plastic jugs to protect your seedlings. Finding when you should start your plants indoors will depend on when the last frost happens, then counting backwards based on t he type of plants you want to grow. Seed packets for your plants will often have instructions on starting your plant indoors which states how and when to plant. In most of the country, March is the month for starting seedlings indoors.
You can also repurpose throw away items such as cardboard boxes, newspaper, toilet paper rolls, half-egg shells, egg cartons to make mini biodegradable seedling pots. Some of the common plants that need to start as seeds indoors are eggplant, squash, melons, peppers, tomatoes and a variety of herbs and flowers. If you don’t really have a sunny space which is a necessity for starting plants inside, you should consider creating a cold frame in the yard as a place to start your seeds. You can find cold frame designs online and how you can build them with inexpensive materials like old windows, plastic sheeting, scrap lumber, and even bales of hay.
Prepare your garden and lawn equipment
Being ready for the yearly upkeep of our landscapes starts with having our lawn and garden equipment serviced. Depending on your landscape and how much rain we get there can start to be a wait for tune ups and repairs, so the earlier you have your lawn mower or gardening equipment served, the better.
There’s nothing worse than getting started on a hot day with a lawn that is overdue to be mowed, only to be stopped by a dull lawn mower blade or other issue with your equipment. Get a jump on the season and be ready with your freshly serviced lawn mower, edger, and other gardening equipment.
Declare war on weeds early
Whenever the first signs of plants and new growth come back to life in the spring, you can also bet that there will be a variety of weeds with them. Once the soil is no longer frozen normally weeks before the last frost is when you need to start preparing the soil in areas that are prone to weeds. Cover this area in mulch to help keep weeds at bay. Also begin pulling up hard to kill weeds such as dock weed, dandelions and poison ivy. Weeds will just get stronger, bigger, and harder to get rid of as the growing season continues, so taking care of them now will save you money and time for the spring season. You should stock up on rock salt, which should be marked down and then sprinkle it on side walks and driveways in the spring to keep weeds from popping up.
Remove yard debris and leaves
If you haven’t gotten around to raking the leaves and yard debris during the fall, that is okay. In some situations, leaves can become a protective barrier like mulch which can help some plants to make it through the winter. When new plant growth starts, the leaves from last year can stop the growth and cause pest issues and even some plant diseases. You should consider composting the leaves and yard debris or shred it to make mulch. If you have a mulching lawn mower, just mow over the leaves so that the nutrients return to the soil.
Tend to the perennials
Most of your perennials, plants that continue to grow for years, including shrubs and trees, could do with some attention. Perennials can add value to your home, so consider giving them some TLC as an investment for your future. Later winter and early spring are the best times to prune shrubs and trees in most areas. Ornamental grasses should be cut before the new growth starts, and thinning and pruning fruit trees should be done prior to the new growth starting. You can even divide some perennials like asters, hostas, yarrow, and Siberian Iris in the early spring which makes a whole new barrel of plants for free. Now that is music for a cost friendly garden.
East Phoenix Valley Nurseries
If you need to have your lawn mower serviced, want to find plants or seeds to use in your garden, need some fertilizer, or have anything garden product A&P Nursery has 4 locations in Arizona in Mesa, Gilbert, and Queen Creek. We carry everything you need to start, maintain, and get the most out of your garden. With partnerships with local landscapers we can also organize services to plant and maintain your gardens and landscapes.