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Ask a Gardener: Sharpen tools now and amend beds

While the ground is still too wet for some garden chores, now is a good time to put fresh mulch in garden beds.
While the ground is still too wet for some garden chores, now is a good time to put fresh mulch in garden beds. Tribune News Service

Welcome, gardeners, new and experienced, to the 2016 growing season!

Though I must say, this is the most difficult part of gardening: When, oh when, will spring really arrive? In these next few weeks there is a good chance of a new plant-killing freeze. Waiting a little while is frustrating but does the plants no harm and saves the frustration of having to replant.

Spend time planning and visiting nurseries to see what’s available until there’s a minimal chance of more freezing weather to avoid the heartbreak of losing early plantings to a late freeze.

Another problem right now is rain-saturated soil. Although some plants love this condition, they are the exception. Most plants wither and die in wet soil. So wait until you can gather a handful of soil that crumbles, rather than stays in a moist ball, when poked.

But on those occasional sunny days now, you can do some things prior to planting. Here are a few:

▪  Clean up beds (avoid walking over them, further compacting wet soil).

▪  Amend beds — compost, fertilize.

▪  Create a planting plan.

▪  Round up, sharpen and oil gardening tools.

▪  Take a class — at nurseries, from Whatcom Extension, and Master Gardener talks.

Before you know it, you’ll be out planting and enjoying early-blooming bulbs, plants, and trees. If you have any questions you’d like answered in upcoming months, email them to newsroom@bellinghamherald.com and they’ll forward them to me.

Kathleen Bander of Bellingham is a life-long gardener. Her column will appear in The Bellingham Herald weekly through the summer growing season. If you have a gardening question you’d like answered in the column, please email it to newsroom@bellinghamherald.com. For more gardening information online, go to whatcom.wsu.edu/ch/mg.html.

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