Rocky Mountains

March, 2004
Regional Report

Don\'t Fertilize Lawns Too Early

Beware of recommendations to apply high nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn early in the spring. Pushing the grass to be the greenest in your neighborhood will predispose your lawn to certain diseases. Lush growth early in spring can cause lawns to develop leaf spot and melting out disease. Additionally, the lawn will need to be mowed sooner and more often.

Start Tomato Seeds Indoors

Plant tomato seeds indoors using a good quality potting soil, not dirt from the yard. Moisten the potting mixture before planting, and set the seeds directly on top; then cover with 1/2 inch of vermiculite. This sterile material will help to prevent damping-off disease that often causes the collapse of the stems. Cover the container with clear plastic and set it in a warm spot, such as the top of the refrigerator.

Check Perennials for Early Growth

Begin to remove a little of the mulch in the perennial flower garden. Don't remove it all at once since this will expose the emerging foliage and flower buds to freeze damage. You can use a broom rake to pull away a little each week.

Fluff Up Your Lawn

If you're in the mood for lawn work, now is a good time to fluff the lawn with a broom rake. As lawns mat down over the winter, a lack of air circulation around the grass plants can lead to mold diseases. The bright Rocky Mountain sunshine has a powerful sterilizing effect, and fluffing the grass will add air and help prevent fungal lawn diseases.

Divide and Conquer Old Perennials

Begin dividing clumps of fall-flowering perennials that have green leaves showing. They will establish more rapidly now with very little transplant shock. Hardy mums, fall asters, Shasta daises, and gaillardia are some good candidates for division and transplanting. Perennial flowers tend to get woody and produce fewer flowers with age, so dividing them helps to rejuvenate the plants.

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