Map image from HERE
Want to start a container garden in your back yard? Tired of waiting for your “maintenance free living” to trim your shrubs? There’s a lot going on in a garden from composting, weeding, planning and planting. Here is a short link to the Virginia hardiness zone map, and for more USDA maps on hardiness zones (sometimes called planting zone or hardy zone), check out: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/. Fort Lee is mostly classified as zone 7B although zone 7A should be taken into consideration when planting. These zones are a indication, generally, of how cold it may get during the winter. This gives you information so you can plant seeds or transplants at the right time and avoid frost. Knowing your first and last frost dates will help you get those veggies into the soil at the right time. For more information check out : http://www.ufseeds.com/Virginia-Vegetable-Planting-Calendar.html
Check out this month-by-month gardening calendar. ( http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-331/426-331_pdf.pdf)
- A good time to prune many trees and shrubs, because most are in a dormant stage. Some exceptions include dogwood, flowering cherry and peach, redbud and azaleas.
- Fertilize daffodils, crocus, tulips and hyacinths just as their foliage is emerging.
- Get your soil tested and add what’s lacking.Soil test kits that allow you to send samples from your garden to Virginia Tech for analysis for about $7 are available at local extension offices or at www.ext.vt.edu/resources/
- Take a walk around the yard and pick up fallen limbs and debris. Don’t walk on frozen lawn.
- Keep winter fertilization of most houseplants to a minimum, as growth is now at its slowest.
- Mid- to late-month – Start plants that you want to grow from seed indoors.
- Apply crabgrass pre-emergent to your lawn before the forsythia blooms fade.
- Geranium seeds started now will produce plants large enough to transplant to outdoor flower beds in May. Plant in sterilized potting soil, covering them about ¼ inch deep. If you overwintered geraniums indoors, root cuttings now.
- If you are spreading ashes from your woodburning stove or fireplace in your garden, be aware that over time you are raising the pH of your soil.
- On warm days, check to see if any perennials have been heaved by freezing and thawing of soil. Firmly press down any that have lifted and cover with at least 2 inches of organic mulch.
- Mulch beds and trees.
- Early March – Continue to start seeds indoors for summer plants.
- Prune roses (March 1-15) for a Mother’s Day bounty.
- Check your lawn mower and get blades sharpened to avoid the spring rush.
- Check for insects and disease, and spray affected plants with horticultural oil when it’s above 45 degrees.
- Rake bare spots in the lawn and then apply grass seed.
- Do not mow the lawn until it has grown at least 2 inches. The roots are being renewed in the spring, and grass needs vigorous top growth initially.
- Discourage nibbling deer in your garden this year by using plants that most deer don’t find tasty. Less tasteful annuals appear to include ageratum, dusty miller, French marigold, periwinkle, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, wax begonia and zinnia.
- Cut the dead flower stems from spring flowering bulbs, but leave the foliage.
- If your hostas have holes, check for slugs. If you find them, sprinkle sand or wood ashes around the plants.
- Dig and divide dusty miller in the spring and replant the more vigorous, outside portions of the clump.
- Plant tomatoes when the soil is about 65-70 degrees.
- If your soil test says you need fertilizer, side dress perennials with a 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer, being careful to avoid the center or crown of the plant.
- Transplants become less stressed when they are set out on a calm and cloudy day. Strong sun and wind are hard on transplants, so set out plants in the late afternoon when the wind comes down and the plants have overnight to acclimate.
- Deadhead perennials by using your thumb and forefinger to pinch off spent blooms.
- Check tomatoes for hornworm.
- When dead or damaged branches are found on shade trees, prune them out immediately.
- Go Colonial Style (have you visited Williamsburg?) Dried, crushed shells from Oysters, shrimp, crab and lobster can be sprinkled on soil to enrich it with calcium.
- Set out tomato plants if you want a fall crop.
- Pick the yellow leaves off geraniums.
- During hot July weather, be sure to mow your lawn to the appropriate height. This reduces water loss and helps lower soil temperatures. Leave clippings on the lawn to decompose.
- Snapdragons should be pinched back after blooming to promote a second flush of bloom.
- When drought hits, if you cannot water roses, don’t do anything. Fertilizing, pruning, applying pesticides or even cutting flowers can harm plants that are water stressed.
- Cut dead bloom stalks off daylilies as soon as the last bud blooms.
- Pull weeds.
- Water beds once a week if there is no rain, and lay mulch if necessary.
- Water your plants several hours before applying pesticides, especially during dry weather. Drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues, and the chemicals that enter the leaves consequently will be more concentrated and may burn the leaves.
- Plant fall vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, spinach and lettuces.
- Labor Day weekend is an ideal time to reseed your fescue lawn.
- Fall is for weeding.
- To keep from spreading diseases and insect pests, sterilize old flower pots by soaking them in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.
- Plant lavender seeds outside in the fall. The seedlings will appear in early spring.
- Plant trees and shrubs.
- Plant pansies.
- When planting spring bulbs, if you are not sure which end of the bulb is the top, plant it on its side. The stem will always grow upright.
- Be sure to clean up from around your perennial flowers, such as rose and peony. If left on the ground, leaves and stems can harbor diseases and provide convenient places for pests to spend the winter.
- Pine needles are like good building insulation – full of air spaces. They insulate the soil and make an ideal winter mulch for perennial flowers, small fruit plants (especially strawberries) and acid-loving shrubs and trees.
- Cut back and destroy all dead perennials and annuals.
- When a freeze is expected, cover winter vegetable crops with cloth.
- Rake leaves off the lawn.
- Fertilize trees.
- After several frosts have occurred, cut back perennials to about 3 inches above ground. After the ground is frozen, plants can be mulched to guard against displacement due to soil heaving. These steps ensure a successful show of plant foliage and color next season.
- Bulb forcing can begin as late as midwinter. Plant tulip bulbs with their tops just above the soil line. Plant daffodils with the bulb tops even with the soil line.
Want to shop local Virginia food at the farmers market or store?
Visit this link to find out what Virginia is producing and, in what seasons: http://localfoods.about.com/od/searchbystate/a/virginiaseasons.htm
Want to know even more?
Detailed “how-to” info on everything from pruning to mulching to lawn care is available from Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension service at www.ext.vt.edu/resources/. Click on the “home gardening” button for a list of resources.
Sources – Gardening in Southeastern Virginia & Northeastern North Carolina , Virginia Cooperative Extension , About.com, The Old Farmers Almanac , Organic Authority