Spring has sprung! It seems like it may be warm enough to start getting things in the ground, but we also live in North Idaho and could get random snow without warning. So, is it really a good time to start planting? Check out some tips below for getting fruits and veggies planted. It’s never too early to start planning.
On average, the last frost in the area is anywhere from May 8th-15th so planting before then is a bit dangerous. There are warmer years when the frost ends much sooner than that, but overall is a good idea to wait.
Wait to buy! All those big box stores are starting to bring out all their plants and flowers and they look great. But, the likelihood they will survive this early is up in the air without frost prevention measures. Resisting the urge to buy until it’s time to plant will save you money and time.
Now is a great time to get some of your favorites seeded indoors. Purchasing seed packets are cheaper than plant starts and you get more options. You only need a few basic items and a warm, sunny window. Read all about how to start seeds indoors here.
Prepare Your Garden
Take a look at the winter damage in your garden. Make sure your perennial are still holding strong. Next, rake out any leaves or debris that’s left over. And pull out those weeds, the soil is wet so they will come out easier this time of year. If you choose to use a chemical to kill the weeds, be sure to read up on it so it doesn’t kill everything. Additionally, it’s not recommended to use vinegar as a weed killer. I will wilt the leaves and make them look dead, but their roots will still be alive. It will also damage the PH of your soil and kill the good micro-organisms living there.
You can also start planning your 2020 garden. Figure out what and where you will plant things. A good idea is to not plant the same crops in the same spot each year, but rather to rotate them to prevent soil depletion and disease. Keeping a journal of your garden each year will help with that planning. It becomes a valuable tool year after year so you can know which plants thrive where, track weather patterns and planting times.
Don’t work with wet soil. It will compact and create rock hard mud balls which are impossible to work with. Only after the soil dries, should you gently turn the top layer of soil. No need for a deep rototilling, this will bring weed seeds to the surface. And before adding anything to your soil, it’s best to test it first so you know what it needs. You can find soil testing kits here.
You can plant cool season crops directly outdoors in late April or early spring. Those include peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, and carrots. But, of course, it all depends on the weather. If you plan to sow seeds directly into your garden, you will find that most of them do well when planted in early May. There are options if you want to transplant seedlings or start seeds indoors. Here are two great resources to help with timing of your planting:
If you’re like us, on the first day of spring you’re still waiting for the snow to melt so you can get on with enjoying spring properly. We’ve provided for you a quick home maintenance checklist of things to look over after a long winter.
Fall loves to dump leaves all over your roof and winter likes to cement them in your gutters. In early spring the freezing and thawing can cause the watery leaf dam to expand and crack your gutters and down spouts. Keep this frost heaving in check by cleaning out leaves as soon as you can. If you didn’t catch it in time, the spring is a great time to inspect for damage and get it replaced, if needed. Remember, water that isn’t directed away from the house can permeate into your foundation causing loads of problems down the road, that is why it’s important for gutters to work properly.
Chimneys stick out like a sore thumb on the top of your house. That means they’re especially vulnerable to the wind and inclement weather of North Idaho winters. There are some chimney features that really need to be inspected after a winter. Check for obvious problems like bricks that look out of place or… if it’s fallen down. That’s a good indicator of a problem. Check the flashing at the base of your chimney. That’s the thin sheet of metal that keeps the water from puddling and directs it down the roof. Furthermore, a periodic cleaning of the inside bits will make it firstly, more efficient. And secondly, safer.
After a damp fall and winter your siding will most likely accumulate mold, mildew and dirt. You can easily fix this with a pressure washer. If you don’t own one, they cost maybe $30 to rent for a day. When you hose your house down, two magical things will happen: you will experience the oddly satisfying pleasure of pressure washing and your house will look brand new. Seriously.
Some of the worst areas are under eaves and near downspouts. Any stains and mold in these places definitely indicate that there is a problem with how your gutters are handling roof water.
Remember when we said that water can permeate into your foundation and cause problems? Ground water is no joke and can completely compromise your home’s structural integrity. Concrete is porous and readily holds water and that water will cause the concrete to break down over time. If you live in areas that get cold, you also run the risk of frost heaving. Both of these scenarios will cause your foundation to crack, or your home to be unsettled and shift.
The spring is your first opportunity to check your foundation for any problem areas. We recommend checking near downspouts and areas that tend to be waterlogged.
Shingles, slate and other roofing materials are not indestructible. While you’re already on the roof checking out the smokestack and gutters, give the roof a good look over. Look for out-of-place shingles, sagging spots or raised shingles. Water will get in any way it can. Your vigilance will keep your roof at the apex of its abilities.
Additionally, check for moss or other organic material. Moss holds water like a pro and the last thing you want is water perched on your roof waiting to find a way in.
We have tons of leafy beautiful deciduous trees in our yards. Every spring, without fail, we find clumps of leaves we missed before the snow fell. When the snow is gone, go clean them up. Debris that is left on turf for too long will suffocate and deprive grass of valuable sunlight. This is also a perfect opportunity to rake and fertilize your lawn and give it the best fighting chance for yard of the month.
Spring is a great time to get started on getting the flower beds ready for the months of upcoming growth. After winter, your soil will be dried and packed, best to revitalize it with some compost or manure. This will increase the health of the soil and in turn, your plants. Trim up your existing shrubs and plants to allow for new growth. It is best to wait until mid-April or May to do this. If it’s still getting too cold for plants to survive overnight, start seeding indoors. Vegetables and annuals can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before planting them. Once soil temperatures have reached the optimal temperature for your plants, get them in your prepared soil outside. Some recommendations for good spring flowers/scrubs include the following:
Vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula
Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
Many pests and critters breed in spring. You can help keep them in check by cleaning the places they would typically habituate. That includes basements, window sills, under cabinets, behind appliances and ceiling corners, just to start. Prevent unchecked population growth by getting rid of the dust and debris that would typically provide shelter. Keeping your counters and trash bins clean will offer less food to the critters. If you’re more concerned with poisonous spiders or the bugs are taking over, call the pest exterminators!
This winter, we found tons of drafts and cold places throughout our house. This is not good. Remember, air is small and goes wherever it wants. Including your bathroom windows and under your front doors. You get the idea, and just think of all the dollars you are literally letting slip through the cracks. My dad always used to yell “Close the door! We’re not heating the neighborhood!” Turns out that if you don’t repair the seals and weather strips, you are- in fact, heating the neighborhood.
Also. Bugs are small, they too come through the cracks. See above.
Your furnace was crucial during the winter and fall. Your AC will probably be a close friend during the summer. Take care of your friend before its in the triple digits. There are some really easy preventative maintenance tasks that you can do, or if you don’t feel confident- call an HVAC technician to service and inspect it.
Some easy things you can do: clean and/or replace your air filters, check hose connections for leaks, dust/blow off/ vacuum dirt from fans & electronics and check drip pans.