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Salem Community Patriot

6 Home Improvement - April 30, 2010

The 60-degree factor: What to do when the temperature tells you it’s time to get out in the lawn and garden

Like an alarm clock for our senses and our gardens, the thermometer swelling to 60 degrees awakens us in the spring. We all get the irresistible urge to get outside, birds are chirping, animals come out from hibernation and plants start unfurling their leaves and flowers to color our world ‘The 60 degree factor’ signals us that the end of large fluctuations between day and night temperatures is approaching. This allows the soil to warm up, which is necessary for seeds to germinate and young plants to take root, grow healthy and start the season out right. It also gets us interested in outside activities again—and inevitably we begin gardening As strong as the urge is to get outside and get started, it’s best to take a measured approach for the best growing experience and a beautiful lawn and garden this season.

Start by making a list of projects and

working through each, one by one.

* Check your tools

Before hitting the outdoors, make a stop in your garage or shed. Go through all of the tools you’ll need in the lawn and garden. Is everything in working order and ready to be used again? Are the

are in the ground or containers, all will need to be fed periodically for maximum results so stock up on good all-purpose plant food. To get ahead of weeds and feed plants try a combination product such as Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed All Purpose Plant Food plus Weed Preventer.

* Start small and sturdy

Now it’s time to make the exciting

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tines on your rake all there and sturdy? Check your hand tools to make sure none are corroded or coming loose from the handles. Sharpen your shovels, pruning shears and edgers. See if you have the gas and oil needed for power tools. Most importantly, take your lawn mower in for a good blade sharpening to ensure the best results on your lawn this season.

* Assess what plants survived the winter

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Next head for the outdoors to evaluate what is still there. Clean out your beds, give the lawn a good raking, and look over your perennials and shrubs. If you’ve just

come through a tough winter, check for signs of distress. Do you have plants that have received too much moisture, sun- light, or exposure to the elements? Are plants over-crowded or have you lost some all together? Take notes on what plants may need to be moved around, replaced or purchased and what questions to ask the experts at the garden center.

* Amend your soil

Plants need the proper foundation of soil to flourish. When the ground is ready to be worked, start tilling and be sure to add amendments—nutrients. Regardless of soil type (sand, clay or something in between) amendments boost the health of your soil. Miracle-Gro Garden Soil improves your existing earth to build strong roots and gives your garden a jump start. Don’t overlook your pots or other containers either. Start with fresh potting soil like Miracle-Gro Potting Mix each growing season. Once your plants

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first pilgrimage of the season to the garden center. Local weather forecasts can offer up some insight here since around 60 degrees is when seeds, grass and vegetable, start to germinate. Planted too early seeds have to wait for the soil to warm up and many annuals may still be at risk of frost damage. Look for hardier plants that will withstand cooler temperatures to start with. Pansies are a great way to add an instant burst of color to your planters and beds early in the season. Spring bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth can even be started indoors in containers and then moved outside for a pop of color. When approaching your vegetable gardening, look to quick-growing, early-season favorites like spinach, lettuces and peas. The thermometer reaching 60

degrees is a great indicator that it is time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors once again. If you approach the season by giving your lawn and garden the foundations needed at this time of year, you’ll have a beautiful retreat to enjoy throughout spring and into summer.

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