Prepare the Soil
It’s finally time to start getting your hands dirty, but never work the soil if it’s wet. Squeeze some soil in your hands. If it forms a solid ball or water squeezes out it is too wet. The soil should crumble easily in your hands. Add some compost to the soil once it’s dry enough and side-dress (lay compost alongside) perennial and biennial plants like rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries. You don’t want to disturb the soil around these early growers.
Get Your Soil Tested
Before adding any fertilizers or amendments like lime to your soil, have it tested by your local cooperative extension service. This is an affordable way to check the pH level and general health of your soil. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce the concept of chemistry to your students!
Sow Seeds Indoors
Start seeds indoors for flowers and warm season crops, like tomatoes and eggplants. In the classroom, watch for over- and under-watering and remove seedlings from South-facing window sills over the weekend. Many times, we have returned on Monday to find tender seedlings fried to crisp by the increasingly hot sun.
Transplant Cool Season Crops
Cool season crops like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can be moved outdoors this month. Follow seed packet instructions and be sure to “harden off” plants first. Bring the seedlings outside on temperate days and place in dappled shade so they can adjust to the sun, wind and outdoor temperatures. Bring them indoors overnight. (This is a great “reward” or job for students!) The seedlings should be ready to plant in the ground after two weeks of hardening off.
Time for a Haircut
Prune trees and shrubs while still dormant, but don’t prune spring-blooming plants until after they bloom. (The last thing you want to do is cut off the bud branches – believe me, I’ve done this and it makes for a disappointing flower show!) Uncover rose bushes and clean up debris and dead limbs left over from winter.
Use Your Senses for Signs of Spring
Enjoy the change of seasons! Talk a nature walk with students and look for signs that spring finally is here: swelling buds, which also might be changing color, on trees and bushes; shoots of early perennials and bulbs poking out of the ground; the smell of wet earth; grass that seems a little greener; and early-blooming bulbs like crocus and snowdrops.
copyright Anne Nagro