Dr. Dirt: Time to plant early vegetables

INDIANAPOLIS - It looks like spring is just around the corner, if we can get past the next two days.  It's almost time to plant the early vegetables. 

The soil temperatures are still in the low 40s, so seed germination will be slow. 

However, a few normal days will bring up the soil temperatures, which is different from the air temperatures.  If you have lawn areas that need reseeding, now is the time to act.  Remember, lawn raking and rolling are two bad practices.  Garden centers will be rolling out all kinds of plants this week. 

Do some homework before planting.  Check plant sizes and allow room for future growth.  This is especially important for trees.  They grow while you sleep!  Fertilize trees and shrubs to help them recover from three summers of dry weather.

April is the month to use a systemic control for borers like the Asian Long Horned beetles and the emerald ash borer.  Certified arborist can inject trees, which provides two years of protection.  Do-it-yourself treatments are annual.  Shade trees are a valuable asset and should be protected one way or another.  The mulching of trees and shrubs is a useful practice.  Just make sure the mulch does not touch the trunk or stems of trees and shrubs.  Mulched trunks and stems lead to girdling roots, which can eventually be fatal to woody plants.

If you haven't already checked your lawn mower, now is the time to make sure it's in running order.  First sharpen the blade for a clean cut.  Mower repair shops will soon have a back log of work, so beat the rush.  Once the grass starts growing it will require mowing perhaps every four or five days.  It's a good idea to never remove more than one-third of the grass leaf surface at one time.  Once a week will not cut it in early spring! 

Happy Gardening, Dr. Dirt

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