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A plant called 'Gus': Asparagus tips

As soon as the soil thaws and is dry enough to work in the Rutland County area, plant bare-root asparagus crowns. Choose a spot in full sun for these long-lived perennials. Set roots in a 1-foot-deep trench, then cover roots with a few inches of soil that's been amended with compost. Add more soil as the plants grow until the trench is full.

Raised beds dry out faster and warm up more quickly in spring than regular garden beds, so include at least a few in your landscape for early planting. They can be as simple as a flat-topped mound of soil, or as elaborate as decorative stone- and wood-framed beds. Fill them with soil that's been amended with lots of compost. Whatever you choose, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how well plants grow.

If your rhubarb plants seem crowded, plan to divide them as soon as the ground thaws. Choose a cloudy, cool day, dig up the whole crown, and break off the young side shoots, trying to keep as many roots intact as possible. Transplant the mother plant back in the original hole amended with a shovel full of compost, and plant the babies in a full sun location.Harvest the young plants lightly, if at all, the first year.

If new shoots of your pear, apple, or hawthorn are blackened as though they were burned, that's a sign of fire blight disease. This bacterial disease, if severe, can eventually kill your trees. To control it, prune off infected areas several inches below the damage. Dip your pruners in a weak bleach solution between pruning cuts to avoid spreading the disease to other trees.

You may start to see damage from road salt. To help flush the salt from the soil, water the lawn near roads and walkways several times, especially during dry periods. This will help move the salt down into the subsoil. Once this salt is removed, then you can begin to prepare the thin spots in the lawn for reseeding.

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