This time of year, gardeners are doing as many spring gardening to-do’s indoors as they are outdoors – perhaps even more. Because winter weather and extreme cold temps continue to grip so much of the United States – Indiana included – we’re fine with that! If you are working outside, however, make sure you’re bundled up tight, taking care to protect your back and joints when lifting heavy snow and staying hydrated.
Get’r Done Outdoors
What could you be doing now, in the cold and snow? Start with these tasks:
- Survey the landscape and make sure ice melt and salt is not covering tender plants. Brush it off with a broom or hand brush.
- Repair or build a trellis for roses and other vining plants or clean up existing raised flower beds of debris, if you haven’t already taken care of this last fall.
- Plant or transplant dormant deciduous plants such as stone fruit trees, hardy perennials, berry shrubs and shade trees. To help with digging holes in still-frozen ground, try renting an earth drill, which uses an auger and machine power to break through hard-to-move soil. These tools also help enormously if you’re building a fence.
- If you see spring-flowering bulbs start to break ground, surround them with a little mulch and fertilize.
Make Garden Plans Indoors
To start planning this year’s garden, it may be helpful to become familiar with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The interactive map was updated about three years ago and puts Central Indiana in Zone 6a (-10 to -5 degrees F). Most of Northern Indiana is in Zone 5b (-15 to -10 degrees F), and most of Southern Indiana is in Zone 6b (0 to -5 degrees F). Plug your ZIP code or GPS coordinates into the interactive map to get detailed information about the average weather where you garden.
The U.S. government, Oregon State University, meteorologists, horticulturists and experts in agriculture analyzed weather data from 1976 to 2005 to make adjustments to zones all over the country. The zone map helps gardeners make appropriate choices when buying trees, shrubs, flowering plants, vegetables and herbs that will thrive in their particular area. Specific information helps gardeners take into consideration microclimates.
Knowing which sections of your yard are warmer than others is also helpful.
Here are a few to-do tasks you can get done indoors:
- Sketch garden maps for flower beds, vegetable and herb patches, placement of new trees and shrubs.
- Decide the number and kind of plants needed to fill spaces.
- Buy bare root roses, order seeds and other plants for best selection.
- Sharpen blades and service lawn and garden equipment before the spring rush.
- Prepare pots and trays for seed sowing and transplanting.
- If you already have seeds, start growing cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, and flowers including impatiens, begonia and geranium.
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with gardening projects. From landscaping equipment to earth drills, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.