JoAnne Skelly: Spring? It’s stalled, but still work to do |

JoAnne Skelly: Spring? It’s stalled, but still work to do

JoAnne Skelly

Supposedly, spring is only about two weeks away. As I sit here looking at the snow on the mountains and in the yard, I’m finding it hard to gear up my brain to think spring gardening thoughts. In some years, daffodils and forsythias would already be blooming. Instead, these cheery harbingers of spring have been delayed by a lingering 2 feet of snow. This lack of blooms dampens my gardening spirit and belief warmer weather is actually drawing near. And, even though I’m doubtful spring is coming any time soon, there really are gardening chores I should be preparing to do.

After the gale-force winds of the past couple of weeks, there’s a lot of clean-up in the yard with downed limbs, broken branches and plant debris everywhere. If the ground is ever visible again and the soil isn’t too wet for digging, I could add compost to my garden bed and turn the soil in preparation for pea planting, traditionally done on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. I might even plant a few hardy crops such as asparagus crowns, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and lettuce this year. March 15 often is a good direct seeding time for these cold-tolerant veggies. If I want to be adventurous, I could put in horseradish root sections or plants.

Most trees can be pruned now, especially fruit trees. However, maple, birch, beech, poplar, elm and willow are the exception and are pruned in late August. They “bleed” too much sap at this time of year. I’ll hold off on pruning the roses until after Tax Day, April 15. Otherwise, tender new growth might develop too early and end up freezing in our crazy spring weather. In case you don’t know, don’t prune lilac, forsythia or any other spring-blooming shrub until after they bloom. If you prune now, you’ll cut off the flower buds and be bloomless, a sad state of affairs.

The Greenhouse Project in partnership with Carson Tahoe Health is offering a series of free gardening classes. On April 5, from 11 a.m. to noon, “Growing Superb Strawberries” will be the topic. “Top Tomatoes and Pretty Peppers” will be covered on May 3. All classes are held at the Foothill Garden located behind the Carson Tahoe Hospital Cancer Resource Center. The classes are outdoors, weather permitting. Seating is limited, so bring a chair, paper and pencil and maybe your lunch.

I’m sure my outlook will be springy soon!

JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at