Gardening with Evelyn: Spring is here

March is the official beginning of spring.

The flowers come into bloom. The tomatoes and vegetables are ready to plant. This month’s column is all handy hints to help you enjoy a successful spring.

Plan and plant vegetables now. Get rid of the weeds before you plant anything. Add some new soil amendment next, then plant. Plant what your family likes to eat. Try adding one extra to broaden your taste palate. If space is limited think dollars. If green peppers are a $1 and red and yellow peppers are $3 you have to choose. Duh! You know the answer. If your garden bed is big and happy to take everything then go for it.

Tomatoes top the list. Two-and-a-half different types of tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes are bushy, great for pots. They give you lots of tomatoes and then they are through. Indeterminate tomatoes get taller and keep on blooming and making more tomatoes all summer into fall. Cage or stake while they are young. The half? Some tomatoes are both. Heirloom or disease resistant? Heirlooms are older varieties. These old varieties are supposed to taste better. Black Krim, Stupice, Mia McArdle’s favorite is Jetsetter. Grape tomatoes like SunGold. So many choices, all good. It’s tomato adventure land. Disease- resistant varieties have letters TVF or TSWV on the label. These varieties are more resistant to viruses, wilts, nematodes and are more likely to live. The more letters the better. The website www.tomatodirt.com has everything you can possible need to know, including tomato jokes.

Keys to success. Consistent watering, not too much nitrogen fertilizer, keep the foliage off the ground and rotate where you grow your tomatoes each year. Tomatoes in containers? Use big 15-gallon cans. Weidner’s and most nurseries will have them for sale.

That big scary green tomato horn worm comes in mid-summer from a huge night-flying moth. Keep the caterpillar spray with the letters Bt handy for all the hungry little caterpillar worms. Look for those little green or black droppings and you’ll soon see the culprit. Bt kills only caterpillars, not aphids, whiteflies or anything else. Spinosad sprays like Captain Jack’s kills both caterpillars and larvae: The rose slug makes your rose leaves get skeletonized in spring. It’s not a slug at all but a sawfly larvae. Both kinds of spray are non-toxic but always read the labels and follow them. That’s why they are there!

Flowers are more fun.

Spring is when Dragon Wing Begonias, and other garden bloomers grow new foliage. Dragon Wing begonias are the easiest and take either sun or shade. As soon as you see new growth on your Dragon Wing, remove the old foliage. Feed and soon your plants look great. Tuberous begonias come back to life about now. Give them time and warmer weather.

The gorgeous Encanto Orange begonia basket takes forever to wake up in spring. Be patient. Solenia begonias are the prettiest. Wow!

#1 pruning rule. Always leave some green leaves, feed after trimming and don’t be afraid to ask your local garden center for advice. For even more answers, go to mastergardenersd.org or call (858) 822-6910. Best free expert answers to all your garden questions. Remember, there are no dumb questions, only people who are afraid to ask.

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