Preparing your spring garden
People are ready to get outside and get their hands dirty
Spring is in the air and folks are getting ready to plant their spring gardens over the next month.
Master Gardener Doug Brightman, of Fort Dodge, is anxious to get out and start his spring gardens.
“I’ve gone out and did some clean up here and there and walked around the yard and enjoyed the daffodils that are starting to bloom,” he said. “When it comes to gardening, I’m just planning and thinking of what I want to do.”
One thing that gardeners need to keep in mind, Brightman said, is the climate of north central Iowa, and being aware that the Fort Dodge region can experience overnight frosts as late as mid-May.
“People want to get out there and do things in their garden,” he said, but they need to remember that a heavy frost can undo all their hard work.
Brightman notes that gardening is an ideal activity to do during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“The nice thing is, I can do my gardening at home,” he said. “It’s more of a solitary thing, so when it comes to social distancing, I don’t have to be concerned.”
For those who are ready to start planning their garden and gathering supplies, local garden centers remain open during this time.
A lot of customers at Smitty’s Garden Center, 2305 Second Ave. N., are buying things like potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, said Smitty’s Greenhouse Manager Rick Lamoreaux.
“Actually, a lot of people are buying stuff earlier,” he said. “It’s too early to put them in the ground, but they know that and they’re potting them up and putting them on their windowsills or in their house.”
For those gardeners who plant seeds rather than replanting pre-sprouted plants, now is the time to get those seeds in the ground, Lamoreaux said.
“If you want to start tomatoes by seed, you need to start them right now,” he said. “But you don’t want to put any tender plants in the ground. You don’t want to put anything tender out that you can’t bring in until after May 10.”
But for people who are already purchasing grown tomato or pepper plants, Lamoreaux encourages gardeners to take them outside on nice, warm days, but bring them in at night and when it’s cold until it’s warm enough to replant them.
The Smitty’s Garden Center remains open during this time, but for gardeners who don’t want to venture into the greenhouse themselves, Smitty’s is offering delivery in Fort Dodge, or customers can call ahead and a staff member will take their order out to their car for them for curbside pick-up.
Bomgaars, 3112 Fifth Ave. S., is also open as an essential business.
“We’ve been very busy,” Bomgaars Manager Anita Harris said. “They’re buying all their fertilizers, their grass seed, Round-Up. We’ve got the tillers to till your garden.”
Bomgaars also has small greenhouses that gardeners can set up on their own, Harris said.
The store is also keeping customers who want to avoid public places during this time in mind.
“If somebody wanted gardening stuff and didn’t want to go into the store, they can call us and we can take it out to their car for them,” she said.
The Bomgaars staff will also remain available to help customers with any gardening advice they may need.
Iowa State University Webster County Extension and Outreach has a vault of resources for home gardeners to use to plan and plant their ideal gardens.
The resources cover everything from where to put a vegetable garden to suggested vegetables to plant to how to use containers to garden to proper techniques for planting potatoes and more.
Gardeners can access these resources for free by visiting www.extension.iastate.edu/webster/news/thinking-about-planting-garden-summer.
A horticulture hotline, or “hortline” is available for lawn, garden and landscape questions for ISU Extension staff. The hortline is available from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 515-294-3108 or email email@example.com.