Now's a great time to think about vegetable gardening. It's fun -- and you can reduce your grocery bills by growing your own food.
Plant cool-season vegetables, such as radishes, peas, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower, outdoors as soon as you can work the ground this month -- these plants survive frosty weather. Don't forget to add some pansies to your spring vegetable garden -- they'll add color, and you can use them in salads.
Start seeds of your favorite warm-season varieties, such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, indoors under fluorescent lights to get a head start on the gardening season.
Now's also a great time to get out and prune your fruit trees (including apple, pear, and cherry trees), as well as fruits such as raspberries and grapes.
Go ahead and prune summer-blooming shrubs such as butterfly bush and rose of Sharon that grew out-of-bounds last year. But hold off pruning your spring-blooming shrubs (such as forsythia and lilacs) -- take the shears to them only after they've finished blooming.
It's also the time to prune your roses. Cut back hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses to about 4-6 inches tall.
Learn more about pruning roses.
While you have your pruners out, take a look at trees in your landscape to see if any of them need pruning. Now's a great time to do it. However, hold off on pruning oaks and walnuts to reduce the threat of disease.
Click here for more pruning tips.
Check that your tools are in good working order before the gardening season takes off. Use a file to sharpen the edges of your shovel, hoe, and pruners -- sharp edges make them easier to use.
See more tool-care tips.
Top Gardening Tools
Here in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden we use a lot of tools. Here are 5 we think every gardener should have. This type of hoe, often known as a hula-hoe but sometimes by other names, is been around for decades and is still the best general weeding hoe. In back and forth action, lets you cut weeds in both direction and it's designed not to dig in deeply so it glides back and forth with less effort than a tropic action of a typical hoe. When it comes to digging holes, a planting spade beats a regular shovel every time. Its long narrow blade penetrates the ground more easily and the handle is straight rather than angled which makes it easy to dig a straight side of planting hole. Here's another substitute for shovel. Spading forks make soil much better than shovels so they're better for chilling flower beds and vegetable gardens. They also help you [unk] a perennials for dividing without cutting all the roots like the shovel will. Once you use the fork, you'll see how much better it is for turning soil or dividing perennials. For planting bulbs an auger is a good substitute for [unk] especially for hard soil or tight spaces between plants. Most gardeners are familiar with augers like this 2-inch model. But for small bulbs, this narrower version is far superior. It digs into lawns without making too large of a whole and requires a lot less power to use than a larger Augers so it works even with smaller cordless drills. The smaller size is just right for planting crops and great vines and bulbs. And here's another trick. Use it to dig holes around trees and pour in your own fertilizer instead of using tree spikes or deep root feeders. Every gardener needs a good pair of shears that scissor-type snips like this one from OXO are easier to use for like trimming like [unk], cutting flowers or harvesting vegetables. The long straight blades have good reach and light beauty snips way less than regular shears. So they are less tiring to use.
Continued on page 2: Dividing Perennials, Spring Cleanup, Lawn Care & Houseplants