The Richmond Register

November 19, 2012

Get ready now for spring planting next year

Gardening 101

By Frank Kourt
Home and Garden Guru

RICHMOND — Now that we’ve had a killing frost or two, you’re probably ready to take a much-needed rest from gardening.

After all, you’ve gotten your dead plants out of the garden, turned over the soil, and harvested everything possible.

Well … not so fast!

Here are a few things you can do now to make spring planting a lot easier:

–  Have your motorized tools – riding or push mower, lawn tractor and rototiller, serviced now. We’re talking about routine things like sharpening mower blades, changing the oil and replacing filters. Now is a time to have these things taken care of, before the spring rush, when small-engine repair and maintenance shops may be backed up for weeks, and the grass isn’t getting any shorter in the meantime. Many places will come to your home with a trailer and haul away your riding mower and other heavy equipment, do the maintenance, and return it to you so it’s ready for use first thing.

– If you’re the do-it-yourself type, check your manual and get busy. It’ll save you a lot of time and trouble come spring. Fuel stabilizer is a good idea if you’re planning to store motorized tools that still have gas in the tank.

– Consider this to be a good time to clean and sharpen your non-motorized tools, like shovels, hoes, axes, manual hedge clippers, pruners and other edged tools that may have lost their sharpness over summer use. Just thoroughly clean all the dirt off your tools and rub off rust spots with steel wool. You can sharpen them yourself with a file, available at hardware stores, or take them to hardware stores that offer sharpening services.

– Once you’ve cleaned and sharpened your tools, spray metal parts with a penetrating lubricating oil and store them in a dry place, where they’ll be ready for spring.

This is also a good time to peruse those garden catalogs you should soon be receiving in your mail.

Look for new varieties of seed for fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants. You may well find improvements in disease-resistance, longer blooming times and other positive attributes that you can apply to your garden.

Many mail order garden centers will allow you to order plantings, such as rosebushes, early and delay shipping until the weather conditions in your growing area are right for planting. Check the catalog to see if this is the case before you order.

Finally, take a good look at your garden space and decided where you’re going to plant what in the spring, keeping in mind that it’s a good idea to rotate vegetable crops from year to year. Think of it as a blank canvas ready to be filled in when planting time comes.

Draw yourself a chart indicating what’s going where, and keep it handy so that in the spring you’re ready to roll!