The do’s and don’ts of early spring gardening

National and World

VALLEY PARK, Mo. – The gorgeous St. Louis weather has many people out in their yards doing work. But it’s important to remember that we aren’t in the clear yet when it comes to freezing temperatures.

Cool season crops like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions and potatoes, as well as flowers like pansies are fine to plant now. But hold off on anything else.

“We always have some kind of late frost it seems like,” said Steven Grellner, owner of Valley Park Elevator and Hardware.

In St. Louis, the average last freeze is April 5. However, we dipped to 31 degrees on April 18, 2020. And the latest spring freeze on record is May 10, 1966.

On warm days like Monday, it’s hard to be patient, but we must hold off until closer to Mother’s Day for other flowers and our favorite warm season crops.

“Everybody wants tomatoes. Everybody loves tomatoes and they taste good. The first tomato of the year. But it’s too early,” Grellner said. “You want that ground temperature warm so when you plant them they take off and grow. Not just sit there.”

For now, there are some critical “must do’s” you can get started on.

“It is time for the crabgrass control and a spring fertilizer absolutely,” Grellner said. “Spring fertilizer with dimension. Like cool season grasses. Fescues, ryes, blues, things like that its very good. Treflan-type product with no fertilization that’s very good for zoysia or Bermuda grasses that you don’t want to fertilize those early in the year but you still want to prevent any crabgrass from coming up.”

If you need to put down grass seed this spring, don’t use crabgrass control because it’s a seed killer. You’ll have to forego weed control until later in the year.

And Grellner reminds us of what’s most important.

“Enjoy the weather. Enjoy being outside. That’s the most important thing. Enjoy life,” he said.

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