Spring fever melts cold winter memories

Recently, the excitement began for me with the first peek of spring weather after that record cold February. I began unpacking my short-sleeved shirts. I started to take inventory of empty pots and other equipment on the patio. I noticed my call volume at the office began to pick up. With the nicer weather, I started to conduct site visits. I have even started running to the gym again.

Yes, I am just as anxious as most gardeners to get out of the house and play in the soil. However, we are still in a transition period. So, I have devised a list of chores that can be done in the next few weeks.

Soil sampling: Take a soil sample of your vegetable garden, flower beds or lawn at this time so that you are aware of the liming requirements or if nutrients need replenishing. Be sure you take soil from a few different places at root level, not top soil.

Garden Tools: Begin sharpening the blades of your pruning tools and lawn mower. Sharper blades make for a cleaner cut.

Scouting for plants: Start purchasing bulbs and vegetable seeds at this time. Ask for disease-resistant seeds wherever possible. Store them in a cool dark place until you are ready to plant them.

Scouting for pests: Start scouting your shrubs for signs of insects. With the warmer weather, insects are becoming more active.

Vegetable garden plan: Begin planning your vegetable garden plot on paper. This will help with crop rotation if there is a history of nematode problems.

Flowerbeds: I suspect no one likes pulling weeds from their flowerbeds. So in preparing your beds apply a pre-emergence herbicide like trifluran or oryzalin to control annual grasses and some broadleaf weeds.

Irrigation system: Have your irrigation system inspected at this time to determine if there are leaks in the pipes or damaged sprinkler heads. If you are like me and do not have a sprinkler system, check your water hose for cracks or leaks.

Crabgrass/goose grass: Historically, if crabgrass or goose grass has been a problem apply a Crabgrass Preventer or Surflan. Contact your local Extension agent for identification of these grasses.

Fruit Trees: I noticed that retailer and nurseries have received their shipment of fruit trees or vine fruit plants. If you have not done so, you still have time to plant them. Contact your Extension agent for a list of recommended varieties to use if needed for cross-pollination and best suited for your area. If you have established fruit trees, fertilize them this month with 10-10-10.

These are just a few things to fuel the craving of wanting to start spring planting and fertilization. I am the first to admit that I am just ready to start planting in my containers and rearranging them on my patio for this year. I have so many ideas that I thought of this winter while being forced inside because of the weather. So, we will just wait together for another few weeks.

For more information or questions about gardening, or to schedule a site visit, contact me in the Dougherty County Extension Office.

James Morgan is the Urban Horticulture Agent at the Dougherty County Cooperative Extension Office in Albany and can be reached at (229) 436-7216 or morganjl@uga.edu . Visit our website at www.ugaextension.com/dougherty .