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Garden Checklist: Feed your garden – it’s hungry!

Spring is in the air – which means it’s time to feed your rapidly growing garden. Those plants are hungry!

Flowering and deciduous trees need the most nutrients (and water) in late winter and early spring as they bud out. Remember to water trees and other plants before feeding or the fertilizer may actually do more damage than good. Plants need moisture in the soil to access the fertilizer’s nutrients.

Balanced fertilizers – with equal amounts of available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (those three numbers listed on the packaging) – are a good choice for spring feeding of most plants, but there are exceptions.

▪  Feed fruit trees before flowers open with a fertilizer specifically labeled for fruit trees.

▪  Feed other mature trees and shrubs as spring growth appears.

▪  Feed strawberries and asparagus. A balanced garden fertilizer works for either crop. Both benefit from compost.

▪  Feed spring-blooming plants and established perennials.

▪  Check for aphids on new growth. Knock them off with a strong spray of water or a squirt of insecticidal soap.

▪  Look out for snails and slugs. Hand-pick them off plants an hour after nightfall.

▪  In the vegetable garden, plant seed for beets, carrots, celeriac, celery, collards, endive, fennel, jicama, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.

▪  In the greenhouse or indoors, start seed for summer and winter squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. They’ll be ready to transplant in late April or May.

▪  For spring and summer flowers, plant seed for aster, cornflower, cosmos, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana, periwinkle, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragon, verbena and zinnia.