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Central Midwest Gardening: Gardening Calendar

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Follow this month-by-month calendar of gardening tasks to determine what to do when in your Central Midwest garden.

Central Midwest Regional Map

March

  • Sow tomato and pepper seeds indoors this month. Try some new varieties.
  • Buy potted herbs and grow them on a windowsill while you wait for spring.
  • Resist the temptation to remove the winter mulch around tender plants. They need protection from hard frosts still to come.
  • Patch bare spots in the lawn.

April

  • Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. Shop early while the supply is at its best.
  • Remove mulch from around rose bushes. Prune and fertilize now. Plant new rose bushes.
  • Take pictures. Spring-flowering bulbs are at the peak of their bloom.
  • Working wet soil will only compact it. Don’t dig!

May

  • Make a May basket. Lilacs should provide plenty of inspiration. Prune them (and other spring-blooming shrubs) after they bloom.
  • Remember your mom. Mother’s Day is May 13th. Buy her a flowering shrub, and plant it for her.
  • Plant annual flowers in the garden and in containers.
  • Start your engines. It’s time to mow.

June

  • Go bananas -- tropical bananas, cannas, and caladiums flourish in summer gardens in the Central Midwest. Plant them now.
  • Paint the garden furniture. This year, try a bright hue.
  • Tuck labels discreetly next to plants, or save them for your garden notebook.
  • Take the day off and go on a garden tour.

July

  • Roll out the grill and spruce up patio plantings for summer parties.
  • Stake tomato and pepper plants. Water them well -- once a week, if it doesn’t rain.
  • Mulch around trees in the lawn to protect them from being bumped with the lawn mower.
  • Plan ahead. It will soon be time to plant fall crops.

August

  • Plant lettuce, spinach, radish, and mustard seeds for a long fall crop.
  • Water dogwood trees this month if it doesn’t rain. They’re forming flower buds for next spring.
  • Pinch the spent flowers of marigolds, zinnias, and other annuals; they’ll keep blooming until frost.
  • Hang up a hummingbird feeder; hummingbirds are starting their fall migration.

September

  • Look for spring-flowering bulbs at garden shops. Buy them now while the selection is at its best, and try to plant by Thanksgiving.
  • Plant pansies and violas as soon as they’re available.
  • Fertilize cool-season lawns twice this fall -- near Labor Day and then around Thanksgiving.
  • Plant trees and shrubs this month, and water well after planting.

October

  • Divide peonies. When you lift an old clump, divide it into at least three new plants to stimulate growth.
  • Pick the last tomatoes now -- before they get a frost on them. Fried green tomatoes are traditional fall fare.
  • Spread compost on flowerbeds and use it as mulch around trees.
  • Dump autumn leaves on the compost heap.
  • Visit a botanical garden and make a note of plants with great fall flowers and foliage for your own garden.

November

  • Plant paperwhite narcissus bulbs in a dish filled with gravel. They will bloom three or four weeks after planting.

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