Time to tackle early-spring garden chores

  • Thursday, March 9, 2017 8:08pm
  • Life

Marianne Binetti will make the following appearances:

• “Tips for Lazy Gardeners” at 10:30 a.m. March 11 as part of the Active Senior Fair at Westminster Abby in Bellevue. Free. For details, www.overlakehospital.org/activeseniorfair.

• “Unthirsty Landscapes” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. March 16 at the Issaquah Water District. Free, but register at www.unthirstylandscapes.brownpapertickets.com.

The second week of spring means it is time to fertilize your lawn, cut back roses, plant peas and other cool-season vegetables (if your soil is not too soggy) and begin the joy of garden clean-up.

It was a cold, wet winter so take it slow when it comes to planting seeds and working your soil. Fertilizing the lawn and pruning chores are the two most important tasks that should not be delayed.

While you are out there in the garden take note of the worst weed infestations and make a promise to root out the invaders this month before they have a chance to go to seed.

Here are the most asked questions about early-spring gardening.

Q. I am planting a vegetable garden and the seed packs do not have a date that tells me when to plant. What does it mean when the seed companies say “plant in early spring” or “plant when the soil can be worked? ” G., email

A. Great question, as the planting dates for seeds of peas, sweet peas, lettuce, kale and other plants are determined by how quickly your soil drains and when it is convenient to get outdoors and loosen the soil. This year, mid-March is a great time to start seeding cool-season crops outdoors. Plant as late as mid-April if your soil is wet and soggy.

Q. What are cool-season crops and how do I know them from warm-season crops? I know I should start warm-season crops indoors this month and set them outside in May. M.B., Maple Valley.

A. Cool-season crops are mostly leafy greens like kale, spinach, lettuce and onions but also peas and sweet peas. You can tell them from warm-season crops because the seed package will tell you to plant in early spring while for warm season crops the package will say to plant after all danger of frost has passed – in Western Washington this usually means to plant warm-season crops like tomatoes, beans, squash and cucumbers in mid-May outdoors and you have the option of starting warm-season crops indoors now for setting out later.

Q. I have overwintered some geraniums and fuchsias in my garage. They show signs of life but when can I move them back outdoors? They are rather messy and taking up a lot of room. J.P., email

A. Don’t move those tender things outdoors just yet. What they really want is bright light from a south facing window in a cool room so they can slowly wake up and be ready to go outdoors in May after all danger of frost has passed. If you do not have a greenhouse or spare room to store the awakening plants you can gamble and move them to a protected porch or patio or keep them in the garage for a few more months. Don’t feel too bad if overwintered plants are sacrificed to a sudden cold spell and end up mushy memories of their former selves. They end up flowering much later in the summer than newly-grown plants you can get at the nursery to replace them – and dead plants make great fodder for the compost pile. We all need more compost.

Q. Our maintenance staff just pruned back the camellias and rhododendrons at the end of February. I know you say that pruning should be done after the spring bloomers have finished flowering. Will our incorrectly pruned shrubs survive? What do I need to do now to help them? S.K., Olympia

A. Calm acceptance is your best approach when pruning is done at the “wrong” time. Most shrubs will survive pruning at any time of year but you will miss out on a spring bloom season. Evergreens like rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and laurels are very adaptive so there is nothing special you need to do when they are pruned in early spring – except maybe admire the blooms in other people’s gardens instead of your own.

• • •

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Relay for Life of South King County moves online

American Cancer Society donations to be taken during May 30 virtual gathering

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                A woman checks out jars of honey and jam at the Renton Farmers Market in 2018. This year social distancing guidelines are changing the look of the market.
Renton Farmers Market is back June 2

The 19th season of the market will look a little different due to social distancing guidelines

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Auburn dance studio finds creative solutions to keep going during COVID-19

Pacific Ballroom Dance moves to online classes; group returned home early from national competition

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                Boon Boona Coffee in downtown Renton is well-known for its large cafe space, but owner Efrem Fesaha has found a creative way to keep people to to-go orders only, putting a table right at the door. The order from the Governor hasn’t been easy for small businesses in Renton, and many are just taking it day to day and hoping for financial relief from local and regional leaders.
Renton communities reach out during shut-in

Local organizations, volunteers and businesses try to make the best of quarantine

Renton and AARP team up for seniors

New fitness park to funded and will open late in the summer

Renton March 2020 Youth of the Month
March Rotary Youth of the Month

Rotary members recognize three Renton School District high school students each month… Continue reading

Courtesy of HLN. A screenshot from a preview of an episode of a new true crime show that highlights the Ingrid Lyne case, where a Renton mother was murdered.
Infamous Renton crime to make TV debut

It’s been over two years since a man was found guilty for… Continue reading

Schindler’s legacy bounces along at Baden

CEO of Baden Sports died unexpectedly in February

Photos courtesy of Linda Smith
Celebrating Black Excellence

Local organization honors Black History Month

Alyx Chamberlain, Jennifer Keil and Mario Pilapil, courtesy of Rotary Club of Renton.
Teachers of the Month for February

As part of their commitment to education, and to celebrate teachers in… Continue reading

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                During halftime, athletes and coaches have individual meetings, while parents watch a video prepared by Highlands Community Church for whatever biblical principle teams are learning about that week at the Upward sports league.
Sports that help kids grow

Local church league gives to neighborhood