3/11/16: In the garden this week

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Native witch hazel, Hamamelis vernalis, is in bloom now in the Thielke Arboretum

The weather continues warm, so it’s a great time to get out and prepare your garden beds:

— you should have cleaned up the vegetable garden last fall, but if you didn’t, do it now! Remove dead plants and weeds, spread compost or rotted manure, and get ready for spring planting.

— direct sow seeds of cool-weather crops such as lettuce, mesclun mix, spinach, arugula and peas. They’ll germinate and grow when the weather is warm, stall when it turns cold again, but cold weather won’t hurt them, and you’ll have spring greens as early as possible.

— start vegetable seeds for warm-weather crops such as tomatoes and squash. You can find a list of dates for starting seeds in this post.

— Weed! Dig up wild garlic and dandelions and pull garlic mustard and western bittercress in your garden plots. The mustards go to seed particularly early, so it’s a good idea to pull them as soon as you recognize them. And they’re easy to pull.

— as weeds and lawn grasses begin to grow, neaten the edges of your perennial and shrub beds. It’s easier to do it now, when the weeds’ and grasses’ root systems are relatively small, than it will be once the weather turns warm.

— it’s much too early to fertilize the lawn. Wait until Memorial Day. Even better, don’t fertilize at all this year.

Enjoy the garden and our local natural areas this weekend!

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Swamp cabbage is in bloom in local wet areas and will soon unfurl its large, bright green leaves.

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