From The Pros: How Does Your Garden Grow?

compiled by Linda Wiggen Kraft

Now is the time to get gardens growing. The pros from area garden centers and nurseries share their tips for what to do now.

Grass seed. Even though most grass seed is normally recommended to plant in the fall a good portion is planted in the spring. Do yourself a favor and find out what you are buying when you purchase grass seed. Grass seed is not all the same, Varieties will be different, Quality will be different, Seeding rates will be different — Where ever you are purchasing grass seed the store personal should be able to tell you some of the benefits and differences of different grass seeds they carry. If they cant go some where else to buy. One bad purchase of grass seed can cost you hundreds of dollars and lots of time and aggravation. Some of the problems people have with their lawns are created by the grass seed they purchased. Cheap grass seed is cheap for a reason, be an educated consumer and plant good grass seed. Randy Greene at Greene’s Country Store & Feed, www.greenescountrystore.com.

Prune Large Crape Mrytles – Crape Myrtles thrive in heat and humidity and are drought tolerant. Correct pruning yields gracefully shaped trees with upright strong stems and more blooms that arrive earlier than do those on unpruned or mispruned plants. Crape myrtles bloom on new growth. They should be pruned in early spring before they break dormancy. Start at the bottom. A healthy, well-structured crape myrtle will only have a few main trunks, 3, 5, or, at most 7. An odd number of trunks are more pleasing, keep those that have ample space to grow and are growing straight. Prune suckers and any additional trunks close to the soil line. Then thin the crown to improve the tree’s looks and health. The upper branches look best if spread in direct directions, remove any that are growing into an area already occupied. Make cuts slightly above a bud that faces the direction you want your new branch to grow. Remove limbs that cross back through the plant or rub against another. To allow better air circulation and sunlight, remove excess branches in the interior of the plant. Final cuts will be to prune out any branches or stems smaller in diameter than a pencil. Ann Lapides at Sugar Creek Gardens, www.sugarcreekgardens.com, Kirkwood.

Preparing the soil in your garden is one of the most important steps to ensure success. March is the perfect time to prepare the soil in your gardens. Begin by turning over or plowing if you didn’t in the fall. Tthis is the perfect time to add some organic matter. Some common forms are compost, leaves, straw and aged manure. Organic matter added to the soil in your garden will improve overall soil structure, feed microorganisms, and sustain insects. Organic matter also contains acids that makes the roots of your plants more permeable, improving their uptake of water and essential nutrients. Its never too late to start your own compost system! Organic matter is beneficial when added to the soil anytime of the year. Ann Thies at Thies Farm and Greenhouses, www.thiesfarm.com, St. Louis & Maryland Heights.

Ah, sweet spring, when young love transpires and crocus buds are full. Spring is the busiest time in the garden. Plants are waking up. Every warm day finds you removing mulch and cleaning-up after winters reign before you can start planting this year’s garden. Start the growing season off right by filling your gardens with cool season flowers and vegetables. Some of them are hardier than we are and can be planted outdoors even before the threat of frost is past. Others may need a little pampering to begin with, but cool spring weather is when they shine. Whether you start them indoors or out, enjoy the spring bounty in your garden this year.
Patti Bragg, Hillermann Nursery & Florist, www.hillermann.com, Washington, MO.

Celebrate exodus of old man winter & experience the positive energy of getting out & working the soil! It’s time for clearing out debris & adding your organic compost . Seed potatoes (don’t forget the fingerlings) & onion sets can be planted around St. Patty’s Day. Weather permitting cool weather veggies; such as broccoliraab, kale, cabbage, etc. can also be planted. The natural pre-emergent corn gluten keeps weeds at bay around young plants and established berries & fruit trees. Staying one step ahead of the weeds makes gardening a little easier & more enjoyable! So enjoy!
Babette Frisella-Briagas at Frisella’s Nursery www.frisellanursery.com, Defiance, MO.

Put on your garden attire! Grab your gloves! Time to clean up your planting areas and then make a trip to the garden center for supplies to ready your veggie/flower plot! Tools, are yours cleaned up and organized? Do you need to replace any? March will bring the first plant shipments Fresh from the Farm! We start the season off with our Greens, Cold Veggie Starts, and Herbs. We will have a few new players in each category, including dandelions. Ellen Barado at Bowood Farms, www.bowoodfarms.com, St. Louis.

Now is the perfect time to start your spring flowers and veggies from seed. We have hundreds of seeds to choose from, seed starting kits, seed starting soils, Jiffy 7s, heat mats, and even grow lights. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s affordable. And the time to plant onion sets and seed potatoes is just around the corner.
Jason Bayer, Bayer’s Garden Shop,
www.bayergardenshops.com, St. Louis & Imperial

The main thing in early march is add organic matter to the soil. It helps the soil much more if you add it and then let the soil set so the micro organisms can start their wonderful work of improving the soil. The cool weather of March and early April is ideal for the organic matter to help build up the structure of the soil so that the root environment has more air space and water holding capacity. Pat Bellrose at Fahr Greenhouse, www.fahrgreenhouse.com, Wildwood.

Its great time to get your beds prepped and start seeds indoors of some great spring vegetables. When the weather breaks you will have plants already growing to transplant and you will be weeks ahead. Which means you can enjoy great organic vegetables before everyone and your neighbors will think you are the cream of the crop!
Greg Parkinson at Moder Valley – wholesale grower

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