It might still be winter up North, but down here we're heading to the garden.

Punxsutawny Phil, the famous groundhog, said we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Of course, Phil’s a rather dim bulb, but because he’s just a groundhog, he doesn’t know this. Spring in the South starts in February, not March (or May in Moscow), and people here are itching to get outside and start planting. I know this because of two particular questions I’ve been receiving lately.

Question 1: “We have some large bushes that have gotten too big for the spot they’re in. Can we transplant them now or do we have to wait until after our last frost?”
Grumpy’s Always Correct Answer: As long as your soil isn’t frozen (and where in the South would that be?), you can transplant deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees now. It’s an excellent time, because they’re dormant and won’t suffer the transplanting shock they would if they were already growing in warmer weather. No need to wait until after the last frost. The sooner you transplant, the better. Try to get as big a root ball with each plant as you can, plant it at the same depth it was previously growing, water thoroughly, and then mulch.

Question 2: “Is it too early to plant new trees and shrubs?
Grumpy’s Always Correct Answer: Absolutely not! It’s a great time! Even if the tops of the plants are still dormant, the roots are growing. By putting plants in the ground now, the roots get a head start growing into the surrounding soil before new foliage and warm weather put demands on them. All things being equal, the right tree or shrub planted in February has a big advantage over one planted in April or May. Dust off your shovel and get planting!

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