Get Set To Garden

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Don't be fooled by the great weather we have had. A visit to the area's nurseries and garden center will give you a clue -- it is too soon to start gardening ... more or less.

Glen McCombs, who has owned and operated Plant Fair Nursery in the Rim Country for more than 20 years, is an area expert on gardening.

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Bare root trees can be planted now as well, according to Plant Fair's Glen McCombs. The holes need to be twice the size of the rootball, he said.

"It's really too cold still," he said. "Except for cold season vegetables such as peas, carrots and beets."

He said these can be planted now and in March and with the peas there is an added benefit -- the root systems fix the soil with nitrogen. "It's free fertilizer," McCombs said.

The ground is still too cold to plant flowers, he said. "We had it freeze here down to six inches," he said of the grounds around Plant Fair Nursery in Star Valley. "It hasn't done that in years."

Flowers, such as pansies and violas, can be planted in pots though. Planting roses now is fine too, he said. McCombs said the roses at Plant Fair are now in biodegradable pots that can be put right into the ground.

"Just dig a hole about one-and-a-half times the size of the pot," he said. Drop in the pot; cover it over, water it in and you're done. Water once a week or when the soil feels dry.

"With too much watering, you can rot the plant," McCombs said. He said a general rule of thumb for watering -- if you have a gallon-size plant (it came in a gallon pot), it will need a gallon of water.

Bare root trees can also be planted now, he said. At Plant Fair there are fruit trees and a few shade trees, plus shrubs such as lilacs and forsythias, available. He said the lilac and forsythia plants need to be planted soon though.

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Now is the time to put in bare root roses. Dig a hole 1-1/2 times as wide and deep as the pot and drop in one of these biodegradable containers.

The garden centers at both Wal-Mart and Home Depot also have bare root stock available. Home Depot has a number of fruit trees and shrubs, while Wal-Mart has a selection of roses.

McCombs said the trees need to be put in holes that are twice the size of the root system.

Evergreens can be planted at any time.

"We have a saying around here, if you can dig the ground, you can plant an evergreen," McCombs said.

He added, if you can dig two to six inches into the ground, you can plant bulbs for summer blooms -- gladiolas, dahlias, lilies, lily of the valley, all of which are available now.

Plant Fair will be getting its annual seedlings this week; onion sets, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants for potting will come in the third week of February; with perennial seedlings starting to arrive the first part of April. The garden center at Ace Hardware will start getting its shipments of plants near the end of March.

Before planting anything, McCombs said you might want to consider soil testing for pH level. He said he recommends the level be around 6.5 for most flowers and vegetables. He also recommends mulching all flowers and vegetables, but only using manure on vegetables. "They need a little heat to help them along," McCombs said.

And while it is too early to do much planting, "It is also too early to fertilize fruit trees," he said.

But with our great weather (our false spring) it is a great time to get out in the yard and start cleaning things up and planning.

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