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Spring is here: Stop vegetating and start cultivating


After what seemed like the longest, wettest, grayest, coldest, snowiest winter ever, crocuses have pushed through the soil and are blooming.

As if that's not great enough, today is the first day of spring. It's time to get outside, dig in the dirt, dream of home-grown tomatoes and get your lawn ready to show off to the neighbors across the street.

Here's some help — a few suggestions about what you can do right now and some classes to help you get in the planting mood — so you can get started.

To-do list for March

Here are some tips from the Fayette County Cooperative Extension Service about what you can do right now.

■ Sow grass seed. Turf-type tall fescue is your best choice. Dwarf varieties mean less mowing.

■ Feed bulbs a balanced fertilizer to promote nice blooms next year. Do not cut leaves down after flowering. They provide food for the plant. Let them die naturally.

■ When working on a vegetable garden, make sure the soil is suitably dry. To test, squeeze a handful of soil into a ball. Drop it from waist height. If it crumbles easily, the soil is dry enough to work.

■ Speaking of vegetables, now is the time to plant cool crops. These include asparagus, beets, cabbage, carrots, chard, collards, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips.

■ Plant pansies and other cold-tolerant flowers.

■ Repot houseplants and feed them with fertilizer at one-quarter strength. Increase pot size gradually.

■ Use sunny days to begin bed cleanup, being careful not to step on emerging plants.

■ Clean out birdhouses. If you don't have any, now is the perfect time to hang a few.

Be smart in the garden

■ Here are some classes offered by the Fayette County Coopertive Extension Service, 1140 Red Mile Place. To register, call (859) 257-5582.

Introduction to vegetable gardening. 6:30 p.m. Thursday. $10. Beginner-level class goes through a year of gardening. Includes gardening booklet and disease-resistant seeds.

Wildlife habitat gardens. 6:30 p.m. April 8. $30. Mary Carol Cooper from the Salato Wildlife Education Center's native plants program explains how to turn landscape into wildlife habitat to attract birds and butterflies. Participants take home a mini habitat garden plan and kit, including one shrub and five native perennials.

Raspberries and blackberries. 6:30 p.m. April 20. $30. Space requirements, planting, trellising, pruning and recommended varieties will be reviewed. Each class member will receive enough plants for a small-scale berry patch.

Great annuals from seed. 6:30 p.m. April 29. $10. Learn about the unusual variety of seed-grown annuals that will thrive in Central Kentucky, and receive packets of seeds to try at home.

■ These classes are offered at The Arboretum, 500 Alumni Drive, Lexington. To register, call (859) 257-6955:

Rose pruning. 10 a.m. to noon Thursday. $5, $4 members. A brief discussion followed by a hands-on demonstration of pruning techniques for various roses. Bring pruners and gloves. Chief rosarian Tim Phillips will teach the class in The Arboretum rose garden.

Spring tree identification. 10 a.m. April 1. $5, $4 members. Indoor, hands-on program teaches identifiable characteristics of Kentucky's native trees.

Bringing spring in. 10 a.m. April 8. $5, $4 members.) Discover ways to brighten your home and celebrate spring through floral design.