It's exciting to get into the garden, but don't hurt yourself in the beginning of the season by doing too much all at once. Stretch, warm up and pace outdoor activities, especially heavy exertion, by working for shorter periods and mixing chores to use different muscle groups.
Locally started plants are already acclimated to Rogue Valley weather but may need to be hardened off like other greenhouse starts. Check at local nurseries and the Rogue Valley Grower's and Crafters Market for locally grown starts of cool-season vegetables, spring flowers and perennial starts.
This year gardeners can find locally grown vegetable seeds through Seven Seeds Farm in Williams at www.siskiyouseeds.com, the Ashland Food Co-op or the Williams General Store. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Seed greens, including arugula, kale, chard, lettuce and spinach. Also, seed root vegetables: carrots, beets and radish.
Get serious about starts — artichokes, broccoli and other cool-season plants. If you have grow lights, a sunroom or greenhouse, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes can be started.
Bait for slugs safely. Use baits marked as safe for pets, wildlife and children. Make a beer bait with a plastic container, such as the ones salsa or dips come in. Cut a hole in the side of the tub near the top, pour in beer and replace the lid. Bury the container to the level of the hole near slug habitat (such as rock borders). Replace frequently.
Fruit chores this month include pruning fruit trees and planting (or fertilizing) cane fruits, rhubarb and strawberries.
Recommended caneberry varieties include tayberries (blackberry/raspberry cross) and boysenberries (blackberry-raspberry-loganberry cross). Mix raspberry plants to include variety in color and harvest time.
Dig up "tired" summer-blooming perennials; divide with a sharp knife; trim away broken roots. Treat these as first-year plants in your garden and provide extra water through the dry season.
Clean out ponds to prevent organic debris from causing algae problems later in the season. Monitor water temperature and begin feeding fish when the water rises above 50 degrees.
Plants to prune this month include boxwood, beautyberry, red-twig dogwood, rose of Sharon, summer-blooming hydrangea, nandina, sumac, yew, privet and juniper.
This is a good time to aerate and remove thatch from your lawn. Rental equipment (under $70) usually makes this a one-day job for the robust. The equipment weighs about 100 pounds. Put down compost, about 1/4 inch, over the whole lawn and use long-lasting fertilizer with trace elements.
If you choose to remove thatch this spring, you can compost the tough roots yourself, or bring them to the Rogue Disposal & Recycling Station in White City. The transfer station accepts thatch and other lawn and garden material with no soil or rocks.
If you are seeding your lawn, make sure to choose the right variety for your specific location. Mixtures for sun, shade and heavy use are available.
Get close to nature this month with classes at North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland, 541-488-6606. Participants must be 14 or older to participate. Go to www.NorthMountainPark.org for information.
Rogue Valley gardeners can hear from alpine plant experts and shop for rare and unusual plants, March 4-7 at the Medford Red Lion Hotel when the North American Rock Garden Society convenes to explore "Alpine Trails: From the Switchbacks to the Suburbs." Featuring speakers, open gardens, workshops and sales of rare plants, books and art. Dine and dish with an international (plant) crowd. Hosted by the Siskiyou Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. Get registration and program details at www.nargs.org and click on "study weekends" or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 541-664-5934 for more information.
"Good to the Last Drop: Backyard Rain Gardens"
Bob Reynolds, master gardener program instructor
CENTRAL POINT (541-664-1726)
Irises with Jan Leine
Oregon (ecology) Stewardship Program
"Waterwise gardening in the Rogue Valley"
Laura Hodnett, Medford water information coordinator