Hank Wessels

I am a new gardener this spring, so please give me an idea of what tools I should have, as well as any other ideas.

A shovel and a fork like a potato fork in preparing the ground, or if you have a small tiller, that is better yet. A standard trowel for planting seedlings. A hook-shaped hoe for making furrows straight in the garden from one end to the other. Sometimes a long twine string will help guide you for a straight furrow.

Do not plant the small seeds very deep, otherwise they will not emerge. Any hard shelled seed should be soaked in water for at least 12 hours for better germination. Always plant fresh seeds.

Scratch cultivators are good in scratching in small seeds. You will also want to have a good pair of work gloves to get fewer blisters on your hands. Have a good pair shoes or clogs while working in the garden.

I want to plant some climbing roses in the spring. What are some good varieties to plant?

First of all, the more sunny area the better the roses will grow and bloom. Here are some favorites: William Baffin would be my first choice. John Cabot and Henry Kelsey are two others which would do well for you.

Make sure any climbing roses you purchase are for Zone 3, and they are Canadian roses.

There are some new varieties on the market that you may wish to check out.

What are some good seed and flower catalogs?

Here are several favorite catalogs I have found with good products: Jung’s Nursery from Wisconsin, (800) 247-5864; Van Bourgondien has special bulbs, (800) 622-9997; Cooley’s Iris Garden, (800) 225-5391 and Johnny’s Selected Seeds, (877) 564-6697.

Contact any of these companies and they should be able to send you a catalog.

The advertising is out to purchase Zoysia grass for my lawn. Is this a good grass to seed on our lawns here?

Save your money, this is a grass for the southern United States in Zones 6 and 7. It begins to green up in June and starts to brown off in August.

Check with your area greenhouses for their suggestions. Remember it takes a different grass for shady areas and sunny areas.

Now that we have snow we should be seeing a lot more birds. Let me know what kind of birds you are seeing in your area of the state.

An update on a question that I asked in my last column. I have been writing the “Ace of Spades” since April 9, 1993. I want to thank all you gardeners for your questions, tips and ideas all these years.


Hank Wessels is a Master Gardener in Watonwan County. He welcomes questions and comments from readers.

He may be reached at 601 1st St. SW, Madelia, MN 56062 or (507) 642-8479.

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