Spring Garden Checklist

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Spring is a busy time in the garden! Weston Miller, OSU Extension Service Urban Horticulturist, joined us to share his expert tips to help us stay ahead of the game.

Soil preparation and planting

• Prepare garden soil for spring planting. Incorporate generous amounts of organic materials and other amendments, using the results of a soil analysis as a guide.

• Install raised beds in areas where cold soils and poor drainage are a continuing problem. Incorporate generous amounts (at least two inches) of organic materials.

• It's a great time to start a vegetable garden. Focus on early-season and easy-to grow vegetables like: potatoes, leafy greens (arugula, kale, collards, lettuce, and chard), carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, scallions, parsley, and more. For guidelines on when to plant.

• Use a soil thermometer to help you know when to plant vegetables. When the soil is consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, some warm season vegetables (beans, sweet corn) can be planted.

• Even though tomatoes and other warm-season crops are available at stores, hold off on planting these crops until May. If you just can’t wait to get your summer crops going, use a cloche or row cover to add extra protection for your plants.

• Availability of plants the nurseries is high. Plant a range of perennials and hardy transplants of alyssum, phlox, and marigolds, if weather and soil conditions permit.

Maintenance and Clean Up

• Mow the lawn at least once a week to keep it from getting too shaggy

• Optimum time to fertilize lawns. Apply one-pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Reduce risks of run-off into local waterways by not fertilizing just prior to rain, and not over-irrigating so that water runs off of lawn and onto sidewalk or street.

• Optimum time of year to dethatch and renovate lawns. If moss was a problem, scratch surface prior to seeding with perennial ryegrass.

• Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to brown and die down before removing.

• Apply fertilizers to berries like gooseberries, currants, and blueberries, blackberry and raspberry.

• Place compost around perennial vegetables, such as asparagus and rhubarb.

• Cut back ornamental grasses to a few inches above the ground, in early spring.

• Prune and shape or thin spring-blooming shrubs and trees after blossoms fade.

Pest Monitoring and Management

• Manage weeds while they are small with cultivation. Keep spring-flowering weeds from going to seed, where possible.

• Clean up hiding places for slugs and snails. Find them under debris in the garden and place them in soapy water. If you choose to use bait for slug control, products with iron phosphate are safest for kids and pets. Read and follow all label directions prior to using baits or any other chemical control.

• Monitor strawberries for spittlebugs and aphids; if present, wash off with water or use insecticidal soap as a contact spray. Follow label directions.

• If necessary, spray apples and pears when buds appear for scab. See Managing Diseases and Insects in Home Orchards (PDF - EC 631).

• Cut and remove weeds near the garden to remove potential sources of plant disease.

• Use floating row covers to keep insects such as beet leaf miners, cabbage maggot adult flies, and carrot rust flies away from susceptible crops.

• Help prevent damping off of seedlings by providing adequate ventilation.

Contact OSU trained volunteers with your spring gardening questions.