It’s incredible how a few sunny, spring-like days beckons you into the garden! The crocus and snow drops are blooming – there’s a few that the native bunnies haven’t discovered…yet. The daffs and tulips are pushing their way up to greet us. Well, spring cleaning in the garden is a NECESSARY task this time of year. Over the past few days, I’ve begun my annual garden clean-up. Whether you have acreage and numerous gardens or a small yard, the task of where to begin can be overwhelming. I usually nibble away at the daunting task with – one garden at a time – approach.
Those of you who have visited me at the farm/shop know what I’m talking about. I’ve often been asked if I have “hired” help with the gardens. BTW, I’ll take that as a very nice compliment! I can assure you I do not; I normally perform the lion’s share of garden-related chores (at the sacrifice to all my fiber art projects for the shop). Although, Dennis, my hubby, builds and maintains my garden and is always willing to ‘construct’ another garden feature. He also helps with the initial vegetable planting. He’s a strong supporter of raised beds and three stage composting! As for flowers, to Dennis, they’re all petunias or marigolds! HA HA
Matt, my son, is my clean-up man, usually wheelbarrow’ing away the garden debris to the compost pile…when I’m too exhausted to move another muscle!!!And my daughter, Katie, helps with watering (the vegetable garden) and pick’n. We’re one step closer to that drip irrigation system – Dennis installed the tubing into the beds last summer…
Spring clean-up begins with a good raking to remove debris/dead foliage from the garden and cultivating to loosen the soil. I think of it as a good back-scratch after a long wintery nap! Now is also the time to remove any weed seedlings and divide/transplant most plants. Add some of that organic compost to enrich the soil too.
I’ve worked-up most of the veggie garden beds as well. That’s where raised beds get you off to an early start – the soil is dry and warm and allows you to plant those cold weather crops such as salad/greens mix, spinach, radish, kohlrabi, beets, snap peas, etc. I also like to stagger my seed planting, a week or two in-between, to prolong the harvest.
This is also a good time to prune your roses and any woody stemmed herbs such as lavender, sage, thyme, tansy, etc. I incorporate lavender into border plantings and so I usually neaten them up by trimming them by 1/3 of the plant. Remove any old, dead stems and open up the plant allowing good circulation. Lavender hates to sit in wet soil!
Sit down if you haven’t already and put your pencil to paper. Plan your garden – check into the benefits of companion planting and purchase your seeds. It’s too early to plant tender perennials or annuals – at least not until the end of May around here or after the last threat of frost! Remember to ‘harden off’ any of your purchased plants from greenhouses, so that they get acclimated to the great outdoors.
Whatever your reason to garden, whether joy, excercise, supplement the dinner table – most important is that you have fun. If you’ve never gardened before, begin small ‘cuz you can always expand and plant more next season. Expect failures. Learn from your mistakes and what works or doesn’t work. Plan on change – gardeners are always expanding or modifying their gardens! Grow organic! Take care of the earth. Plant native and drought tolerant plants, most of which require low maintenance. Grab the kids and grandkids. Give them some space and allow them to plant their own garden – a butterfly garden, cutting garden, ‘scratch ‘n sniff’ herb garden, you get the idea… There are lots of lessons taught in the garden. Hope you enjoy another rewarding growing season!