Spring Tips for Midwest Gardeners

Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer and we are anxiously awaiting warmer weather. But there’s no reason the last threat of frost should stop you from turning your garden into a productive, beautiful space. Here are a few things to consider as you begin your March and April planting!

As with all gardening projects, it’s best to start with the basics. Begin your weeding early (whether you use conventional weed-killers or organic options). Your efforts will be most successful if you start early as some methods prevent weeds/seeds from ever germinating in the first place. Have you edged your beds and turned your soil? Plants grown in properly prepared and fertilized soil will get the most out of the season if you get these basic chores done earlier.

As late March bleeds into April, it’s probably fine to jump into planting cool-season flowers, particularly if grown in planters or pots. Examples of cool season flowers include violas, snapdragons and pansies. cLow-maintenance perennials are usually safe to plant within 3-4 week of the last predicted frost for your area. (Need to know when that is? Check out the Farmer’s Almanac). Particularly sturdy shrubs and bushes like hostas, yarrow, catmint, switchgrass, and hibiscus can support early planting. Roses are also a sturdy cool weather plant.

This is also a great time to plan for and begin planting any perennial herbs indoors for transplant as the weather warms. Start your basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, cilantro, etc. from seeds indoors, then move outside when you’re sure the last winter frost threat has passed.

The first week of April is the best time for planting perennial fruits (especially those that grow on bushes like raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, goji berries) and even strawberries. By the second week of April it should be safe to begin planting root vegetables like radishes, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and turnips. Legumes, lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens are also great Midwest crops for late April. By the end of the month it should also be safe to get those tomatoes in and soaring.

It’s time to plan, purchase and plant your garden!

Needs some help maintaining throughout the year? Here are a few gardening tips to keep in mind:

  • Divide spring-blooming perennials early
  • Don’t prune flowering plants until after the blossoms fade
  • Prune evergreens between now and late summer
  • Use banana peels to enhance your rose’s flowering (either cut up into small pieces and bury close to the rose plants, or blend with water to turn into a slurry you can pour onto the soil around the base of your plant)