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It is time to start gardening

It is that time of year again

It is the end of winter and yet not spring yet, The average last frost here in Middle Tennessee is April 15. That is about a month off. What should a gardener be doing at present to make this growing year a really good one.

1. Clean the place up. This will mean a lot of different things depending on the type place you have and the type of gardening you do. For me living on a farm with about two acres that I try to do something positive with it mean that I have to do the following.

(A) I have both blackberries and raspberries and it is time to cut the old canes and to beginning to prune the fruiting canes. In Brambles the cane grows one year, then fruits the next and dies. Cut the dead canes off as close to the ground as you can.

(B) begin pruning the fruit trees, Jesus said it well in all things you prune so that it will produce more fruit. I will never forget my first visit to the wine country north of San Francisco. It was about this time of year. I came over a hill and saw acres and acres of grape vines, some bigger than your arm and only about three feet tall. They had been pruned back to two or four buds .In Tennessee one often sees grape vines wandering all over and you can bet not much fruit.

(C) It is time to clean up the vegetable garden. Put all the old plant material in the compost bin and if your area is small do the 5 thicknesses of newspaper covered with enough dirt to hold it down and when you get ready to till it up in a few weeks it will be awesome.

2. Plan on this years planting. Planning has never been one of my strong suits. I would go to the nursery or worse perhaps order a lot of plants from catalogs and they all are there needing planting. So you start digging holes and putting plants in the ground and it is not a really good way to do it.
(A) Put it on paper first. Get some graft paper or take a photo from last year and get it blown up at one of the instaprint places and use an overlay of clear plastic or tracing paper to plan where you want to plant. Please consider how big the plant will be as it ages. Read all you can about the plants you want so you will know the best place to put them depending on light and water.

(B) You plan on everything but woody ornamentals on using three, five, or seven or some other number that fits that progression. I just learned this after years of throwing single plants at the ground. Even some woody plants look better in groups

(C) when you get the plants, if they are potted, set them where you plan to plant it and see how they look and is there room for them to grow. Are they plants that will push others out of the way.

3. Get you tools in shape.
(A) All power tools should be started and it they wont get them to a shop now rather in six weeks when the wait will mess up your planting etc. Drain the gas if you left it in the machine. Use fresh gas. Change the oil. Sharpen the blades.

(B) All hand tools should be first found, then cleaned up and at least partially painted so you can find them. If the tool has an edge as a shovel sharpen it with a file. Look a bit before you go buy another. Always buy the most expensive tools you can afford, in the long run they cost less.

(C) Yard sales and auctions are often great places to pick up good tools at a bargain. Don't buy it if you don't need it.

(D) Chemicals get a secure place to store them. I use a locking large plastic truck box that will lock to store mine. Test the sprayers, if the label is gone on the bottle, take it to the trash collection center as they have a place for toxic chemicals.

4. Get in shape to garden, it will save you a lot of miserable Sundays and perhaps worse. Begin now lifting some weights and doing some squats etc. Come the summer you will be glad you did.
Get some good gardening gloves and designate clothes you will garden it. Don't wear the new slacks out to just do one thing you will wind up ruining them. Get a hat to keep your brain from toasting.

Have a lot of fun and if there is any way that I can help with questions or sources please give me a yell.

John Acuff Master Gardener Instructor
http://acuffsbxr@blomand.net or http





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