Winter break garden work can yield a spring reward

Winter break garden work can yield a spring reward

You can start preparing the soil for your spring vegetable gardens now. As long as your soil is dry enough to work, you’re ready for spring. If you wait until spring fever reaches your garden, it will usually be too wet to work the soil.

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You can start preparing the soil for your spring vegetable gardens now. As long as your soil is dry enough to work, you’re ready for spring. If you wait until spring fever reaches your garden, it will usually be too wet to work the soil. Gardening is a great way to take advantage of the abundance of great foods we consume this time of year due to the holidays.

Preparing the soil now will allow time for the lime, compost or other incorporated ingredients to have time to react with the soil and take effect before spring planting. The now combined leaves will have almost completely decayed by spring and will be ready to benefit from next year’s crops.

After tilling in any components that your last soil test indicated were deficient, shape the soil into raised beds (unless you already have good soil). You can also stack extra leaves in the driveways for an all-weather path. Next season, the partially decayed leaves can be pulled into the rows as mulch.

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Be sure to save some extra bags of leaves for next year’s garden.

This is also a great time to clean out perennial beds. Some people prefer to wait until the freeze kills them again, but this is not necessary. Cut summer perennials back at ground level and mulch the plants well to protect them over the winter. If you think a semi-hardy plant can survive the winter, it may be best to wait until spring before cutting it from the ground.

It is not uncommon for azaleas and other evergreen plants to begin turning yellow (or red) and dropping their leaves in early to mid-winter. Old pine needles will begin to turn brown (while the needles on the tips of the branches remain green). Both of these problems are caused by a combination of factors that you cannot control or need to do anything about. As I always say, Mother Nature is in control and tells us so from time to time. Just be sure, if there are any freezes in the forecast, to cover the tender plants in your landscape.

Evergreen plants tend to lose their leaves in seasonal drops. Environmental fluctuations can contribute to a great deal of yellowing and shedding of old leaves. The pines and azaleas should rebound next year if things return to normal. Finally, evergreens still require some moisture during late fall and early spring. Only water landscaped areas wisely. We should be fine for a while with the cold temperatures. Dormant or deciduous plants do not need the same amount of water as evergreen plants. Consider watering evergreen plants individually to ensure adequate moisture to sustain growth.

Don’t forget to send your garden questions to Plant Answers at 9020 Airport Rd., Conroe TX 77303 or email: mpotter@ag.tamu.edu.

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