Can you feel it yet? Spring is on its way!
I know, I know, it’s only January, but it’s late January. And down here in South Alabama the days are warmer, the nights are shorter and the weather has been gorgeous.
So of course, I have Spring on the brain. I can’t help it, I love this time of year when everything has the chance to be new and fresh. But there is a lot of work to be done before the spring planting and growing season officially arrives.
All those preparations can be a little overwhelming so read on for Fainting Fox Farm’s Early Spring Garden and Yard Preparation Checklist.
Want it in a easy to print format, just click here. Just remember we are in South Alabama (zone 8-9) so you may need to adjust the schedule a little later based on your own regional zone.
Now is the time to prune spring-blooming trees and plants like fruit trees and shrub roses. If you need a little guidance on the best way to prune your fruit trees and shrubs check out my post here.
Now is also a good time to go ahead and fertilize fruit trees and shrubs.
Our local co-op extension recommends a complete fertilizer like 8-8-8 at the rate of 2 lbs per year of age per tree up to 10 lbs for peach trees and up to 9 lbs for plum trees; split into 2 or 3 applications. Pears should receive 8-8-8 at a rate of ¾ lbs. per tree per year of age up to 4 lbs; split into 1 or 2 applications.
The recommendation for blueberries is ¼ lb. of 8-8-8 per plant per year of age up to 1 ½ lbs.; split into 2 or 3 recommendations.
They don’t offer a recommendation for blackberries so I just fertilize them slightly less than my blueberries. I’m not sure they need it. The blackberries are the wild child of our orchard, but they might feel left out so they get some fertilizer too.
I usually wait until my second application of fertilizer and then add some to my shrub roses. I have heard that you should fertilize roses monthly while they are budding and blooming but I confess to being lackadaisical after the first application or two. They seem to do fine either way.
If you have never grown shrub roses you should give them a try. Ours are the Knock-out variety and I don’t think I could kill them if I tried. They add color all summer long and are a breeze to grow.
Is your vegetable garden bed ready? If it’s like mine it is still partly filled with dead plants and last year’s tomato cages. It seems like I am always behind on prepping my garden beds.
So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to get those beds ready for the new crop of spring plantings. Remove last year’s detritus. Clean up and organize useable garden devices like tomato stakes/cages or trellises. Repair boxes or garden frames that need it. Kill early emerging weeds and top-dress the beds with compost.
Now is also be a good time to add lime or other ph amendments to soils that need it. If you are unsure whether you need to lime or not, soil ph test kits are readily available at most home improvement and garden centers.
Late winter may seem like a strange time to consider planting tender new plants. But it is a good time for new shrubs and roses and gives them a great head start for spring.
You can also plant hardy spring bulbs, like daffodils and the like. I don’t do a lot of this type of planting. In our warm climate, I feel like it is too much work for the short payoff. But if you love flowers and planting, go for it.
And if your garden beds are ready and you are in a southern zone like zone 8 or 9, late winter is a good time for putting hardy vegetables like onions and potatoes in the ground. Other crops that do well with our mild temps and a late winter start are cabbage, lettuce, broccoli and strawberries.
Just remember that any planting will still need to be protected in case of freezing temps. Otherwise, all your hard work will be for nothing.
Okay, this one is probably not on your average garden to do list. But on a farm, there tends to be a bit of a hoarder mentality. Maybe that’s just on our farm.
But over the winter we seem to accumulate stuff. You know what I am talking about. Random buckets, scraps of wood on the porch, last year’s dead ornamental plants, partial rolls of wire. Just stuff.
This is the time of year to get rid of it. It’s still nice and cool out, you aren’t swamped with the planting, weeding and harvesting. The summer project list hasn’t started yet. And who doesn’t love a good spring cleaning. So, take some time and purge. I know it’s hard because you think you might need that wood scrap or bucket later, but trust me your life will be so much easier during the busy spring and summer if you are working with clean and clutter free surroundings.
Were you expecting more? Don’t worry, depending on how many trees and shrubs you have to fertilize or prune and how junky your garden beds and porches are (guilty right here), these tasks should keep you busy until you are able to start getting plants in the ground.
Don’t let the workload overwhelm you. Just follow our Early Spring Garden and Yard Preparation Checklist and you will be off to a great start to Spring.