Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2005
Regional Report

Don't Prune "Bleeders" on Warm Spring Days

Although it feels so good to get out and prune when we get a taste of spring, be selective about which trees you prune. Avoid pruning trees whose sap runs freely in warm weather such as elms, maples, and birches. Prune these trees when temperatures are very cold or wait until late June.

Don't Worry About Bulbs That Emerge Prematurely

Bulbs that send up green shoots on southern exposures or when the weather is prematurely warm will usually bloom just fine. With most bulbs, the foliage comes up first, and even if it is slightly damaged by later frosts, the flower buds are still protected.

Keep Seedlings Healthy With Milled Sphagnum Moss

Remember to use milled sphagnum moss on top of seeded flats to prevent the fungus that can cause seedlings to topple and die. This inexpensive moss -- available at garden centers -- carries a natural fungicide that keeps the damping off fungus dormant. Cheap insurance!

Transplant Seedlings Early

When seeds germinate and produce two sets of true leaves, it's time to transplant seedlings out of the flat. Then give them more light and begin fertilizing with a weak fertilizer or fish emulsion solution. Keep the lights only a few inches away from the plants for stocky, healthy growth.

Plan Your Composting Arrangement

It's not too early to begin planning where you'll make compost this year. There are all sorts of ready-made bins available, as well as a plethora of plans for making your own from scrounged and recycled materials. A little planning now will give you a steady supply of the black gold for your vegetables.

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