Spring Gardening Tips

  • Home Owner Tips
  • Wednesday, March 30, 2022

While the warming weather may have you itching to start your planting, but the first signs of spring are too soon in Calgary. While overnight temperatures are still dropping below zero, and there’s still potential for frost and snow, the best thing you can do is prep work.

That said, you may still want to resist the urge to dispose of any leftover leaves or plants, at least until frost breaks. For one, leaves left on your lawn provide valuable insulation for baby grass; if you walk on it while you rake, it can get compacted and can damage new growth.

Another reason to hold off is that your yard could be a winter home for bees and other insects.

More than 70 percent of wild bees build their nests in the ground, which are shallow and not well protected during our long, cold winters. The majority of butterflies and moths also overwinter in leaf litter. Leafcutter bees, mason bees, and yellow-faced bees will build nests in the hollow shafts left when plants dry out, and bumblebees also rely on leaves for protection.

So, what can you do now?

While you’re waiting for temperatures to warm up, give your trees a once over. The best time to prune your trees is in winter when they are dormant, so inspect your trees for dead, broken, or diseased branches and give them a trim. You should also look at the overall structure of your trees for signs of weakness. Branches that have been bent or cracked from the weight of snow can become a safety hazard later, in the event of a storm or high winds.

Next, you can take your garden indoors for a few weeks. Prepare some pots and beds and start sewing your seeds inside. Giving your seedlings a chance to grow where its warm and cozy will give them a better chance once it’s time to move them outside.

Once the ground starts to defrost, the first thing you should do outside is feed your soil. It’s important to enrich your soil so it will have the nutrients necessary to feed your plants.

But … when can I plant?

In Calgary, usually around the May long weekend is a safe bet.

When overnight temperatures have risen above zero, you can transplant your seedlings to the garden. Tomatoes and peppers do great when potted, so you can either plant them in your garden later, or simply put the pots outside once it’s warm enough.

There are a few plants that can handle cooler nights better than others, so you can potentially plant vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and radishes, or flowers such as pansies and snap dragons a bit earlier. It would still be advisable to keep an eye on the forecast, and if temperatures do drop, you can always cover your plants with a towel or burlap to protect them.

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