* If your spring bulbs have been shaded by new growth of a tree or shrub plantings, consider moving them to a sunny location or pruning back the plantings. Mark over-crowded clumps; dig up and divide them after the tops have died back. Note where you want to add color for next spring.
* Upon emergence of foliage, fertilize bulbs with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, at a rate of 3 pounds per 100 square feet. Repeat the application after the bulbs have bloomed.
* If you plant an Easter Lily outside, don’t plant it near other lilies as it may carry a virus that can infect them.
* Prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as forsythia, weigela and early spirea after they have completed flowering.
* Do not fertilize azaleas and camellias until they have finished blooming. They should be pruned after blooming.
* Many gardeners plant annual and perennial flowers to attract hummingbirds; woody plants can also be added to the yard to provide nectar for our smallest native birds. Some common trees to add are buckeye, horse chestnut, apple, crabapple, hawthorn, redbud and tulip poplar. Shrubs include red and bottlebrush buckeye, rhododendrons, Georgia basil, azaleas, New Jersey tea, Salvia greggii, and rosemary.
* Once new growth emerges on trees and shrubs, cut back to green wood any twigs affected by winterkill.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
* When planting orange, yellow or chocolate peppers, be sure to plant extra since they stay on the plant longer to mature and produce fewer fruits
* To hinder early blight on tomatoes, mulch under to keep the soil borne diseases from being splashed on the plant during rains.
* To have fresh raspberries, raise them in your own backyard. Fifteen or twenty plants, spaced 3 feet apart, in rows 6 feet apart, will produce a good supply of fruit.
* If fruit trees are lacking pollinators nearby, pick bouquets of blossoms from good pollinators and place them in pails under blossoming trees. Make plans to plant pollinating varieties this fall or plant perennials or shrubs that bloom at the same time as your fruit trees.
* Thin young fruits of apples, pears and peaches within 25 days of the peak bloom, leaving 4-7 inches between fruit to insure larger, healthier fruit.
* Grapevines with excessive vegetative growth generally have less high-quality fruit. In early spring, prune out the canes with the fewest buds to allow light, moisture, and air circulation within the plant to improve the quality and quantity of the fruit.
* Erect trellises now for beans and cucumbers.
* When the spring is very wet and the soil is too muddy to work, try planting your seed potatoes on top of the ground. Lay the cut seed flat on top of the wet earth with the eye up, spaced in rows 24 inches apart and 12 inches apart in the row. Cover them with 6 inches of oak leaves and water the leaves heavily enough to pack them so they won’t blow off. This method saves digging and planting furrow, hilling, and digging up the potatoes. Just pull back the leaves and there they are, nice and clean and not sunburned.
* If your garden is small and you do not have adequate space for the long-vine varieties, plant a bush-type, winter squash.
* Root crops must be thinned, no matter how ruthless this practice seems. Thin carrots, beets, parsnips and onions so you can get three fingers between individual plants.
* When planning your vegetable garden, consider that leafy vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight to develop properly. Fruiting vegetables like squash, tomatoes, eggplant, beans and peppers need 10 hours of full sun.
* When transplanting seedlings in peat pots to your garden, be careful not to allow the rim of the peat pot to protrude above the soil level. If the rim is above the soil, it will act as a wick and draw moisture away from the transplant. To prevent this from happening, break away the uppermost rim of the pot before planting and make sure the pot is completely covered with soil.
* When tomato seedlings have 5-7 leaves, they are ready to transplant into the garden. To increase root growth and produce a sturdier plant place tomatoes in soil up to the bottom leaves.
* Drive stakes for future supports at the same time you plant tomatoes. If you try to install stakes later, you may damage the plant roots.
Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee or by contacting the Cherokee County Extension Office at 100 North St., Suite G21 in Canton at (770) 479-0418. The Georgia Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.