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February To-Do List for Zone 5
  • Bring geraniums out of storage; cut them back by half, water well, and set them in a bright, cool window.
  • Indoors under lights, start seeds of sun-loving daisies, columbine (Aquilegia spp.), stocks (Matthiola incana), edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus), and shade-seeking impatiens.
  • Start seeds of lettuce, celery, onions, leeks, and early tomatoes indoors under lights.
  • If the ground isn't frozen, sow some spinach and radishes outdoors under cover.
  • Force some indoor blooms! Cut branches or gather prunings from fruit trees, lilacs, and forsythia. Put them in a vase with water, then enjoy the flowers a few weeks later.
March To-Do List For Zone 5
  • Start warmth-loving crops—such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants—indoors under lights.
  • Transplant early tomatoes into larger pots, planting the stem deeper into the soil for additional root growth.
  • Start annual flowers, such as marigolds and zinnias, indoors under lights.
  • Tie up ornamental grasses, and use a serrated bread knife to cut them back to a few inches above ground level.
  • Trim dead or damaged branches from trees, shrubs, and roses.
  • In the vegetable garden, begin to plant potatoes, peas, lettuce, radishes, and carrots.
  • Late in the month, transplant pansies outdoors; also, sow seeds of nasturtiums and sweet peas.
  • At month's end, transplant an early tomato outdoors. Before you plant, fill the planting hole with warm water.
  • Start seeds of perennials—such as columbine (Aquilegia spp.), campanula, bellflower (Campanula spp.), blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.), globeflowers (Trollius spp.), and pyrethrum (Tanacetum coccineum)—indoors under lights.
April To-Do List for Zone 5
  • If the ground has thawed, divide and replant perennials, such as asters, bee balm, and hostas.
  • Plant roses and lily bulbs.
  • When the ground is warm and dry, transplant early tomatoes outdoors.
  • Seed a second crop of lettuce (start the seeds indoors or sow them directly in the garden).
  • Sow spinach in the garden to get tender leaves before the weather warms.
May To-Do List for Zone 5
  • After the soil has warmed to 60°F, transplant out tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes.
  • Small, 3-foot-tall "tomato" cages work for peppers and eggplants; for tomatoes, use sturdier, 6-foot-tall rings made from 4-inch-square chicken wire.
  • Squeeze some last runs of cool-season crops into the garden.
  • Protect cucumbers, melons, and squash from pests by using row covers. (Be sure to remove them when plants blossom, though.)
  • Divide and replant summer and fall-blooming perennials.
  • Transplant evergreen shrubs and trees, and pop annual flowers into beds.

June To-Do List for Zone 5
  • Stake dahlias and gladiolas when you plant them to keep from damaging their roots later in the season.
  • Pinch back foliage ends of mums, 1⁄2 inch every 2 weeks.
  • Fertilize roses now: To supply potassium, whiz banana peels in a blender, then plop the stuff beneath the mulch around your roses.
  • Harvest daily from asparagus plants in patches at least 3 years old.
  • For autumn harvest, plant bush beans, Brussels sprouts, and late cabbage.
  • Spray tomato plants with comport tea (made by steeping an old pillowcase filled with compost in a bucket of water) to prevent diseases.
July To-Do List for Zone 5
  • Reseed dill and cilantro every few weeks for continuous harvest and to attract beneficials with blooms.
  • Sow autumn peas; presoak seeds for a faster start.
  • Harvest summer squash and cukes while they're still young and tender.
  • Start seeds of Shasta daisies in a coldframe, where they'll overwinter until large enough to plant next spring.
  • Harvest vegetables and flowers in the cool of the morning.
  • Shear back tired-looking impatiens and petunias by half, then boost their regrowth by feeding with fish emulsion.