Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2009
Regional Report

Prune Fruit Trees

Prune fruit trees before buds swell. Sterilize pruning tools with a 10 percent solution of bleach before each cut, and dispose of branches properly. Prune out sucker growth, water sprouts and any diseased or dead branches. Remove branches that grow toward the center in order to open the crown.

Spray Dormant Oil

Get ready to spray fruit trees with dormant oil. This will help control aphids, scales, mites and other insects. Make sure temperatures are above forty degrees with no chance of frost or rain for 24 hours. Don't spray if the day is windy.

Check Soil Before Working the Garden

Don't be too eager to start working the garden. To avoid compacting and ruining the soil structure, try the squeeze test first. If you squeeze a ball of soil and it breaks apart when you poke it, the soil is ready to work. If it sticks together, wait a week and try again.

Prune Roses

Prune roses when forsythia blooms. Prune hybrid teas and grandifloras back to about twelve inches and be sure to remove any diseased or broken branches. Prune shrub roses lightly to remove dead wood and to shape for aesthetic appeal. Open up the crown slightly to allow sunlight to force more blossoms.

Pot Up Summer Bulbs

Start summer bulbs in pots indoors. You can start caladium, begonia, canna, elephant ears, agapanthus, and peacock orchids now. Use a sterile potting soil, water with warm water and place on a bright windowsill. When the danger of frost has passed, harden them gradually to the outdoors.

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