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Garden checklist: Steps for getting organized ahead of spring

Spring is almost here, so now's the time to get organized for the new garden season!

DENVER — HELLO MARCH, come on Spring already!  Hasn’t this been a looooong February?  While it is still too early to do any garden cleaning or planting, we’re only a few weeks away.  I may have to shovel parts of my garden though as my usual cool-season vegetable area is still under ankle deep snow.  Wait, maybe this is where I’ll plant “snow” peas…

While you’re getting excited at the prospect of a new garden season, get organized now.  

RELATED: Discontent with winter? Time to start thinking about your garden

Here’s some ideas for a March garden checklist:

1)    Do you know when the last average frost date is?  For the Denver-metro area it’s Mother’s Day (May 10th this year).  Check your seed packets and count backwards to see if it is too soon to start planting seeds indoors or in your greenhouse.

2)    Did the snow damage any branches in your trees or shrubs?  Remove dead/damaged branches or clean up fallen branches.  On a day with some sunshine, seize the moment!

3)    If you’ve been shoving things into your garden shed, take the time now to get it cleaned and organized.  Don’t swap out the snowblower for the wheelbarrow quite yet but clear, clean and declutter.

4)    Clean and sharpen your garden tools.  Make sure your shovels, pruners, and clippers, rakes, etc. are free from rust and dirt.  I use plain white vinegar, water, steel wool and/or a wire brush, linseed or mineral oil, and WD40.  Here’s how:

*In a bucket combine a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar

*Soak your tools in the bucket for at least 15 minutes.

*Wipe down each tool well and rinse with clean water.  If necessary, use steel wool for tough rust areas or stuck on dirt.  A wire brush is helpful around hinges or small areas.

*Rinse again and let everything dry completely!

*Rub all metal parts with linseed or mineral oil and if necessary, a little dab of WD40.

I take my tools to a professional for sharpening.  I found my person through my local garden center.  Of course, you can do it yourself with a file or a sharpening tool but I’m not that brave…gonna keep all 10 fingers attached!

RELATED: Prepare for spring by pinching your plants

5)    Check your garden hoses for leaks, holes or lose connections.  My pitchfork and I are famous for poking holes in the hoses…hey, the repairs keep my husband busy!  If something is beyond repair, then it’s time for a replacement.

6)    I pride myself in how long I can make a pair of garden gloves last but it’s time for a new pair when I resort to duct taping the holes.  If yours are still in good condition give them a good rinse with mild dish soap and water.

7)    Go to the garden center and get your seeds, starting trays, and heat mats.  There is still time to order seeds online too but don’t wait too much longer so you can choose from the best selection.

8)    Back to that counting back day for starting seeds…get a garden calendar and journal to keep track of everything you do.  Keep track of the dates your clean, plant, transplant.  What is the weather like?  What birds do you see in your garden as the season approaches? What are your garden goals this year?  A garden journal is not only helpful in planning this year but to look back next year to see what was successful, or maybe not so.

9)    Take a class!  Your local garden center should have a calendar of classes and events, and the Denver Botanical Garden, and Hudson Gardens in Littleton both offer a variety of classes too.  Grab a garden buddy and learn more to help you be successful this year!

Don’t forget that March can be our snowiest month and those cold winds can make being outside disappointing, but soon enough we will be saying, ‘Oh yes! Spring is finally here!’  Until then keep planning and get organized.

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