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Prep work for spring starts now

The November Gardener

Master Gardener Purviben K. Trived-Ziemba perpares her home for spring gardening.

Master Gardener Purviben K. Trived-Ziemba perpares her home for spring gardening.

ALBANY, Ga. — A gardener’s year is 13 months. That’s right; a gardener never stops taking care of his garden. His plants demand continual care, his land needs ongoing nurturing. Due to warm weather, south Georgians can enjoy vegetables and flowers until the first frost.

Though spring is gone, you can still have a flower garden. You can plant perennials, mulch them at least two inches, water regularly, deadhead as necessary and enjoy beautiful results until the cold weather sets in. Sow seeds of poppies, larkspur and delphiniums for early spring color. Make sure to leave enough room for your plants to grow.

If you have planted cold-sensitive vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, it is time to harvest them. The ground will be soft after harvesting, so it should be easy for you to cultivate the land. It is time for removing old mulch, clearing off any dead plants and tilling the ground.

Instead of throwing old material away, I am going to use it for composting. Next, I will spread manure and soil from the compost heap over the garden and plow them under; I will also feed my garden with Dolmitic limestone so the soil will get both calcium and magnesium.

By taking proper care of my garden now, I will reap a bounty of vegetables and have beautiful flowers next year. I am going to plant some strawberries now so they will be established by spring. I am also going to sow some cool-weather plants, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, peas, carrots, kale, radishes, mustard, turnips, beets and spinach.

I am going to start on my gardening for next year. After consulting with my family, I have planned out what my garden will look like in 2013. I have drawn a map of the garden area and decided the direction and length of the rows, how much row spacing I will need for each vegetable, whether or not to plant on raised beds, and other details. This way, I will not order too many seeds.

For the flower garden, I am going to try new cultivars, add more color, change the color scheme, and layer the colors by having taller and shorter plants. I want to have a butterfly garden and have planted some zinnias.

Contacting Suzanna McIntosh and other Master Gardener forces behind the Radium Springs Butterfly Garden is on my list of things to do for November. I need to take an inventory of my supplies and reflect on last year’s harvest; I had too many greens and too few vegetables.

I need to think about what went well this year and how I can improve my gardening. I am going to check my seeds for viability and buy new seeds. If you have a small space, I advise this type of square-feet gardening.

For my friends without any space, I have two words — container gardening. Even if you are living in an apartment, you can grow vegetables in containers. I am growing parsley, cilantro and dill on my window sill. Little kids would enjoy observing these herbs growing from seeds and would be more willing to eat them. I always plant some dill and parsley in my backyard. If you see some green worms on it, don’t kill them.

Swallowtail butterfly lays their eggs on Parsley. When you see the larvae, you can make a butterfly habitat from a shoe box and raise the butterflies inside or allow them to grow on your parsley. Don’t forget to release them once they have developed into butterflies.

New fruit trees are arriving in nurseries and plant centers. Now is the time to go and get them for the best selection. Check with your local Extension Agent to make sure the tree you want to purchase is sustainable in our area, Zone 8B. Several years ago, I bought some citrus trees meant for Zone 8. Guess what? Winter in Albany is too cold. Talk about lugging five huge tubs of potted plants indoors each winter.

If you have questions about gardening, call your County Extension Agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or talk to a Master Gardener Extension volunteer. You can also go to UGAextension.com/Dougherty or GeorgiaMasterGardener.org and click on Southwest GA. The Master Gardener site for Southwest Georgia is SWGAMasterGardener.com/contact.

Purviben K. Trivedi-Ziemba is a Master Gardener intern and a volunteer with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.