Spring is here, and gardeners are ‘raring to go’

Spring is here, and gardeners are ‘raring to go’
World-Herald News Service

Spring is here, and your yard is calling.

There are things to do, even if morning temperatures are winter-like — in the 20s and 30s.

Soil temperatures are on the cusp of the minimum needed for planting spring crops. Those leaves you left in the yard to help insects survive over the winter can be cleaned up.

“People are raring to go,” said John Porter of the Nebraska Extension for Douglas-Sarpy Counties. “It’s fine going ahead and getting everything prepped and ready.”

The weekly average soil temperature in the Omaha metro area was 37 degrees over the weekend. The upper 30s and low 40s are the minimum for planting cool-weather crops such as spinach, onion, lettuce and peas. For some cool-season plants, a few degrees warmer is needed for best germination.

They will grow after the soil temperature hits 32, but Porter said they’ll germinate quicker if the ground is a bit warmer — especially when temperatures drop back to 30 at night.

“I’d say over the next week or two if air temps stay warm, we should get closer to sustaining the optimum temps to plant the cool-season crops,” he said. “You could go shop for seeds.”

It’s also the perfect time to plant seeds indoors for warm-weather crops such as tomatoes and peppers.

While waiting to plant, get your soil ready. If you haven’t checked it for a few seasons, Porter recommends doing a soil test to see whether more fertility is needed. Add compost as warranted.

Be careful as you walk around if your garden is still wet.

“It’s really easy to compact your soil,” Porter said.

Also assess shrubs and trees for damage, although it might not be apparent until they start budding.

“If you have any type of fruit trees, this is the last chance to prune those,” Porter said.

If you can’t wait to get outside but aren’t ready to do some of the more complex work, start by cleaning up debris left over from the winter. Crocuses and tulips are appearing so be careful as you rake.

Don’t think you have to get everything done immediately.

“Keep in mind that it is a marathon rather than a sprint,” Porter said. “Getting started now will help you get a leg up, but don’t think you have to do it all at once. There’s plenty to do and time to get it done, so pace yourself.”

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