PHOTO: The Little Red Schoolhouse on the Middletown-Lincroft Road is home to Garden Club R. F. D.

MIDDLETOWN, NJ - St. Patrick’s Day has passed as has Easter. Our clocks moved ahead one hour and the first day of spring occurred on March 20.   Nevertheless, some traces of winter remain. The home gardener must be unaffected by this and start to plan and become more active in preparation of their garden.

Some early season tips:

  1. Plan your landscape. Try to remember what flourished and what didn’t. Next year keep a notebook or take pictures with your Smartphone. Your USDA hardiness zone is 7a, so make sure that any new plants you purchase are appropriate for your area. Try looking at www.weekendgardener.net/do-list.htm where you can locate monthly gardening tips and to do lists by the month. It is a great help.
  2. Check your current plants—your hardy perennials, trees and shrubs for winter and storm damage. Prune any injured branches to prevent further damage by disease attacking the weakened limbs.
  3. Test your soil because spring is one of the best times to amend the soil, if needed, with an organic fertilizer. Only soil can provide the minerals necessary for plant health. Your soil test will give you a pH number on a scale of 1-14. A good garden soil should have a pH of 5.5-7.5. A free pH test and a complete soil analysis for a nominal fee is available at Rutgers Agriculture Extension in Freehold.

To the Garden Club of New Jersey, of which Garden Club R.F.D. (in Middletown) is a member, spring also means “going to school”. It will hold Flower Show School IV at Holly House at Rutgers Gardens in New Brunswick on April 5-7, concentrating on floral design and the study of ferns, cacti and succulents.

It will also sponsor Landscape Design School IV on April 13-15. Check www.gardenclubofnewjersey.com for further information.

Garden Club R.F.D. will wake up the herb garden at Marlpit Hall on April 9 and would welcome you to join them there or at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Middletown Lincroft Road in Middletown on April 19 for a program on “Sustaining Landscapes and Gardens” with Sean Walsh. Call June Smith at 732-671-9216 to let her know of your interest.

Finally, visit with Garden Club R.F.D. members at the Schoolhouse on May 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or on May 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for their Annual Plant Sale. You will find new varieties and unique assortments plus homegrown contributions from the members. Planting advice is also dispensed. Proceeds are used for the historic preservation of the Little Red Schoolhouse and the surrounding areas.