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Now is the time to work the earth

Q. Like you suggested, we plotted the area we’re going to dedicate to our vegetable garden this year. We’ve been seed shopping and have that part pretty much under control. So, what’s next for our agenda to be successful with this year’s garden? – C.W., Albuquerque

A. Now you’ll want to be working with the earth. It is time to turn the soil and work in much needed oxygen.Tracey Fitzgibbon

Aim to dig down at least eight inches deep – deeper if you’ve the stamina. There are tillers that you can rent to get a larger space turned, deeper, if that’s the ticket.

After the first turning, spread a stout layer of manure over the area and then turn it in too. Finely-milled compost can be spread too. That’s the “secret.” You want the added soil amendments turned under and into the garden soil now.

Once you’ve gotten the soil amended and turned, give the area a good watering. The wind of late winter could dismantle all of your hard work, so the watering will have a twofold effect. First, it holds the soil in place, and second, the water will start the process of making all the nutrients in your amendments more soluble.

While you are turning the soil, watch for dirt clods and do your best to break them up. Also, remove any larger stones, twigs and debris other than dirt.

When you are choosing manure be sure to aim for weed-free and perhaps heat-treated manure. That way you’ll be less likely to incorporate any unwanted seeds that could be hiding in the manure.

There is nothing worse that adding in manure from a free source only to find that the manure came from animals that had been munching on weeds. Remember, seeds are sturdy and can end up in the manure unfazed and ready to grow given the proper conditions.

That’s the next step in getting your garden area ready to grow.

Q. Since today is Valentine’s Day, I want to give my partner roses. Not the cut kind, but an actual rose bush. Trouble is, I’ve not seen many available to buy. Help! – R.H., Albuquerque

A. You are right, the selection for rose bushes this time of year is practically non-existent.

It’s far too early to even think about planting a rose bush. We’ve still got weeks of weather where winter is still in control.

Even if you could find one to fit the bill, if you plant it now, you’ll have weeks of having to offer nighttime protection, consistent watering and worry. So what do you do?

Well, hopefully you’ve gotten a few cut roses to pronounce your love and then include the written promise that you want to give a living symbol of your affection.

Later, when the season is upon us, the perfect rose can be chosen by your partner and planted.

Meanwhile, get out there and scout the property and choose the proper placement. Roses are remarkably sturdy creatures and are, in my opinion, easy to grow.

You want to pick a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day and isn’t tucked into a corner. Roses like and grow best with ample air circulation surrounding them.

By offering a small bouquet now and your word that more roses are forthcoming, you will have offered the best reminder of your love.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Birthday Dad.

And most of all Happy Diggin’ In.

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to features@abqjournal.com.

 

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