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Spring Is on the Way – Time to Plan Out Your Garden!

(All photos courtesy Greenstreet Gardens

By Ray Greenstreet

Alexandria, VA – We’ve officially rung in the New Year, which means it’s time to start planning out the gardenFor the year ahead! Is there any better way to get through winter than this? Gardeners often struggle with deciding when is the best time to plant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a simple black and white answer. A plan that includes a planting schedule for Maryland or Virginia may help to simplify the process.

What is a Planting Calendar and how do you use it?

A planting calendar is a guide you can use to determine the best time to plant vegetables and flowers. It also helps you to decide the right time to plant trees and shrubs, depending on the conditions. A Virginia or Maryland-based calendar might look slightly different from one based on the climate and conditions.

Because we are used winter here, spring and fall planting dates should be based on the first and last spring frosts. Or, if you’re into it, you can also create a moon planting calendar based on the moon cycles.

It is believed that the moon’s cycles have an effect on plant growth. The moon’s cycles can also affect soil moisture levels in the same way that they affect tides. Rumours say that seeds absorb more water if the moon is full or new, as the moisture is pulled to its surface. This can lead to seeds swelling which may result in better germination and, in turn, more established trees.

When should I plant vegetables?

Plan your planting calendar. Next, think about your vegetable. gardenIdentify which vegetables are cool-season and which are hot-season.

Planting cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and potatoes in the spring is a good idea. This occurs between two to four weeks before the last spring freeze, which may occur as early as the first week of April. If they are exposed to frost, summer vegetables will not thrive. You should wait until nighttime temperatures reach 50 degrees before you plant them, which is usually May.

When should I plant my flowers?

Perennial flowers thrive in warm weather. Plant perennials between mid-April and late September or late October.

Annuals can be classified in two ways. Annuals can be classified into either cool-season or warm-season. This tells you when is the best time for them to be planted. Annuals like calendula, poppies, and pansies are a few that relish in the cool temperatures of early spring and late fall. Some plants can even withstand light snow and frost!

Warm-season annuals like marigolds, petunias and geraniums should be planted after frost danger has passed. These flowers will require more attention in summer when the sun shines and the soil is dry.

When to Plant Bulbs

It is best to plant bulbs at least one year before they are expected flowers. If you’re looking ahead to the next year, plant summer-flowering bulbs, such as dahlias, in the spring between mid April and mid May, and spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, in the fall between mid September and late October.

When is it best to plant trees and shrubs?

Extreme temperatures can cause serious damage to budding trees. Of course, the ground doesn’t cooperate when frozen, so you are best sticking to planting in either early spring or late fall. It is better to plant in the dormant stage of the tree before you start to damage it. A container can be used to plant a tree or shrub, but it is best to avoid planting in winter.

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