beet greens and lettuce greens

Free time on your hands? Avoiding social spaces, but need some time outside?

First, remember that just because you're outside, the virus can still spread. If you're working with more than one person:

  • Maintain minimum distance of six (6) feet between you and others in the area.
  • Do not take part in strenuous work that requires more than one person.
  • No sharing of treats, snacks, or water. Everyone needs to provide their own water to stay hydrated!
  • Bring your own garden tools and buckets.

Below are some gardening tasks that can be accomplished in the next couple of weeks!

Grow some greens in a pot. Use red lettuce, green lettuce, arugula, endive, swiss chard, beet leaves, spinach and water cress to create a salad mix.

Greens are super easy to seed in a pot of soil, and allow for harvest in a short time period. And they develop better flavors because they are grown in the cooler temperatures of spring.

When growing greens, it is best to broadcast the seed and as they grow selectively take out plants that are growing too close together. This is a great way of getting a yummy early harvest.

Plant onion sets (not seeds) to grow green onions for an early harvest, and dry onions in the summer.

Take a soil test. Gardeners make big mistakes when fertilizing their vegetable gardens, perennials, shrubs, trees and lawns. Too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too fast, making them prone to disease and insects, and causes run-off that promotes algae blooms further down your watershed. If you fertilize your plants regularly, you need to take a soil test. Adding fertilizer without knowing your soil is like adding salt to your food before you taste it. For more information on taking a soil test, visit

Plant a container with cool season annuals. Some annuals do better in the cooler temperatures of spring than the heat of the summer. Annuals like calendula, blue lobelia, snapdragons, love in a mist, and sweet alyssum can be combined now into a container that will remain vibrant and full before the heat gets here.

Cut back your perennial garden. When cutting back perennials of their winter killed foliage, cut it up into pieces and leave it in the garden. This is how your perennials will get nourishment without additional fertilizer or compost additions. Keep an eye out for disease or overwintering pests. If you need ID help, contact our Master Gardener help desk (though our office is closed for quarantine, we're answering emails).

Cut back your flowering shrubs (like hydrangea), but only if necessary. I personally am not a fan of tightly mounded specimens that are meticulously pruned each year but rejoice in the natural look of the plant. Pruning shrubs may help if the plant has gotten large, had fewer blooms or had dead. The timing is crucial as you may be pruning off your future flowers if you are not careful. The rule of thumb is prune spring flowering shrubs after blooming and prune summer flowering shrubs in late winter to early spring. However, if you are pruning a hydrangea please check out these articles before pruning. Last year, I did a two-part blog post on managing hydrangea. Part I. Part II.
 

Start an Asparagus patch! Starting now, you can plant crowns (a bundle of asparagus roots), not seed, in a trench 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep, spaced one foot apart. Spread out the roots from the center of the crown, then cover the crown with 2 inches of soil. 

If you already have an existing asparagus patch, mow off the old foliage and fertilize before new growth occurs. Apply a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.