Preparing For the Coming Spring

Spring is a crazy time for gardeners. We wait for the arctic air to retreat north while counting the days to the last frost. Then one morning we step outside and discover that spring has snuck in under cover of darkness and we’re instantly behind on weeding, watering, and transplanting. This is no time to be wasting precious weekend hours on a trip to a crowded garden shop. Save yourself a little time and plan a pre-spring shopping trip now for garden supplies. Here are some things to put on your list.

GardenHoseWateringFirst Aid For Hoses – As soon as you haul out the hoses, you’ll rediscover all the leaky spots you ignored last fall. Start by replacing the hose washers. Reinforce any spots threatening to tear with an application of duct tape, the handyman’s secret weapon. For more serious problems buy a hose mender kit. They’re easy to use and can stretch your garden dollars.

Soaker Hose – If you’ve been using sprinklers in past years, you might want to try soaker hoses. These porous hoses made of recycled material are the lazy man’s drip irrigation system. Just position the hoses and rake a layer of mulch over them to prevent the water from spraying where you don’t want it.

Plant Support Supplies – Some plants tend to flop over once their blossoms reach a certain height. Have on hand garden twine and 3-4 foot plant stakes for such problems. There are also specialty staking products available in garden catalogs. One looks like a grid on stilts. This support is designed so the plant grows up through the openings before flowering – a nifty solution to an annual problem.

GlovedHandGloves – Okay, admit it. The garden gloves you used last year look pitiful. Time for another pair. Buy them with rubberized palms that will protect your hands from thorns and sharp objects lurking in the dirt. Also get ones in a bright color, anything but green. Gloves in fuchsia purple or lemon yellow are easier to spot when they fall among your shrubs.

Sunscreen and Bug Spray – Buy a bottle of sunscreen to keep with your garden tools. If it’s handy you’ll use it more often. Even if you’re not a pale-skinned blond like me, it’s wise to guard your skin against cumulative damage from the sun. While you’re at the store, buy some insect repellant too. What the sun doesn’t burn, the bugs will bite unless you’re protected.

Weather Monitoring – What the weatherman reports is never quite the same as what you experience at home. To keep track of conditions in your garden buy a rain gauge. Knowing how much rain you got last week helps determine how much watering you have to do this week. Add to your list a high-low thermometer that records the lowest and highest daily temperatures and you can be a weather-smart gardener.

Plant Light Kit – To successfully start seeds indoors you need a grow light. The light in your home is weak compared to the full rays of the sun. Even the sunniest window provides less than twenty percent of outdoor light. Select a lamp with adjustable height so you can accommodate your growing plants.

Finally, remember to check your supply of soil amendments, fertilizers, insect sprays, and fungal powders before your trip to the garden shop. Spending a little time now while the weather is still cold will make the coming season less frantic. Then when winter is over you’ll be ready to spring into action.

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