Perennials: When spring bulbs emerge they are in danger of nibbling by squirrels as well as deer. A sprinkling of cayenne pepper will often deter squirrels. Milorganite is successful in preventing deer browsing if applied before the tasty tips are discovered. Give the bulbs an application of bulb fertilizer when they are up and growing. Don’t worry about freezes or a bit of snow.
Flowers: Pansies, violets, petunias, calendula, snapdragons and sweet alyssum can be started indoors now and planted out after hardening off in April or May.
Vegetables and fruits: Continue pruning grapevines and fruit trees. Raised beds, at least 6 inches high, will warm up and dry out weeks before ground-level soil, especially if they are covered with black plastic. Test soil around blueberries and add an acid fertilizer if needed to reach pH between 4 and 5.5. Prune dead wood from blueberry bushes.
Trees and shrubs: Weather permitting, begin fertilizing acid-loving evergreens: azaleas, rhododendrons and hollies. As soon as soil can be worked, plant new trees. Make sure the hole is adequate for the roots to spread. Do not add fertilizer to the planting hole. Unlikely this year, but new plantings need an inch of water a week.
Lawns: Keep off wet lawns except to spread some grass seed where the freezing and thawing will help germination.
Houseplants: Repot cuttings of geranium and coleus. Give the amaryllis bulb and its strappy leaves some half-strength fertilizer.
General: A small but eager cadre of corn farmers in the Midwest are starting to switch from corn to vegetables and fruit, lured by a little-appreciated fact of farm economics: There is vastly more money to be made in growing other vegetables and fruits.
— Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester