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Gardening with Micki: Plan ahead to be ready for spring | Lifestyles


There’s very little that is pretty about a garden in winter, unless it is covered with a blanket of pristine snow. Occasionally, a red cardinal will visit, giving the dreary scene a splash of color and a faint promise of spring. There’s also a rabbit that lives under the storage cottage and shows up at the kitchen door, as if to ask “What’s for lunch?”

Winter days however are a perfect time to begin planning ahead for the garden scene you hope to create when spring arrives. You have probably already perused the spring garden catalogs, giving you new ideas about the trees, flowers, or vegetables you hope to plant.

So, what can you do now to get the best results for your spring and summer garden?

Soil preparation is your first step toward having a successful show in your garden. That involves using natural ingredients and adding organic fertilizers. You may also want to shake up the earth with some tilling. This is also the time to plant bigger trees and shade plants. March is the perfect time to plant pansies. Mid to late April is the prime time to plant all other spring flowers.

If you are planning a vegetable garden, it’s crucial to have your soil tested. Veggie gardens thrive when the soil is mixed with mulch or mushroom compost. The County Extension office will test your soil, according to the Oklahoma State University Extension staff.

Another tip from the Extension Service is to map out your garden on graph paper before you start planting and remember to allow space for your plants to grow. Tulsa’s Southwood Nursery garden staff also suggests “Keep your garden simple, if you’re a novice gardener. Start small to avoid garden frustration.”

On a field trip to the Linnaeus Teaching Garden in Tulsa, our tour guide suggested: “Consider the size of garden appropriate for you. Gardens require maintenance. Don’t over-crowd. Space plants properly. Over time, this leads to excessive pruning and poor plant performance.”

Other tips included:

• Plan for all four seasons when choosing garden plants.

• Consider using native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, which thrive in hot weather.

• Pay attention to the garden’s traffic paths.

• Finally, enhance your garden with visual attractions — fountains, garden art, decorative pots or urns.

Micki J. Shelton is a Muskogee native and master gardener.

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