Well here it is mid April and we find ourselves in the mist of snowy blustery days and freezing night time temperatures. Once again Mother Nature is reminding us that gardening always begins on her terms!

Keeping the unpredictable weather in mind, there are several things you should be doing in preparations for that beautiful warm weather that we know will eventually get here.

The first thing is: Don't spend money on those beautiful annuals and plant them too soon!!

Typically in our area of Santa Fe, the date for safe planting and not risking a freeze is Mothers Day in mid May. That's not saying that I have seen freak spring snowstorms in May, but mid May is the general rule of thumb.

I am the first one to admit when we have those 50 to 60 degree days and are out and about, all those beautiful colors are incredibly hard to resist!! If you find you're self unable to resist the urge to buy them, here are a few tips you can use to protect them until its safe to plant. When you plant in your pots, or even in your gardens, be diligent about watching the forecast. If the nighttime temps are dropping into the 30's you can cover your pots with a garage bag at dusk, or even throw a sheet over plants in the garden to protect them. If it drops into the 20's its best to move those pots inside your house or garage (if in an unheated garage cover them) and move them back out when the daytime temp has warmed up. Remember, just because a plant may be a cold hardy perennial, if just planted it will need protection for freezing weather as the roots have not had time to get established and the plant may not have been hardened off from the nursery or store you got it from. Another option is if you have a covered raised bed, you can buy them early a use it as a holding area until its safe to plant.

Secondly: Spring clean up and feeding is the most important thing you can do in preparation for garden season. Pruning the dead off your perennials, turning that decomposed leaf and garden material gently into the soil and feeding those cold perennials that are starting to emerge will reward you with a beautiful start to your garden. Adding good organic mulch and gently working into the garden helps stimulate the plant growth while also locking in that moisture, which is so precious this time of the year. Spring in New Mexico means that those moisture robbing winds will most certainly be arriving, taking with it what little moisture we may have been lucky enough to get through the winter. Supplemental watering throughout the winter when it is dry and cold is a necessity to prevent plant and tree lose, and it is just as important in the spring to wake the plants up and replace what the winds take.

And lastly, by the time you have prepared your gardens with your spring cleanup, you will find you can start planting early spring perennials. In order to have that beautiful seasonal color you will want to plant spring, summer, fall, perennials for that continuing color. Now you can get out all those pots and fill them with a good planting medium, add annuals with some mixed in perennials, and watch them grow!

Mother Nature will reward your efforts with beautiful color, and you will have done your part in helping to make the World a more Beautiful Place!

A Woman's Touch

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