Spring garden work comes in a rush. Every year we northern gardeners wait for the snow to melt. Then we wait for the mud season to end. Then we wait for that last hidden snow fall that comes, who knows when -any time between the end of March and early May. It appears we are always waiting. We also wait for the first bloom of flowers – either flowering bushes, early ephemeral or the dandelions – the plants that provide nectar for the early insects – especially the bees so clean up needs to wait to help them along.
Then suddenly the wait if over and there is more to be done that can get done in the short days. We work to get as much accomplished in the garden between the spring rains (which are usually needed but making it hard to more forward) and the too cold winter like days.
There is the winter clean up to be done – fallen branches, leaves from last fall that will not mulch down this year, or in my case the chopped up plants that the winter rabbits chewed through out the cold season. ( yes, rabbits you can thank me for not fencing every single bush in my yard.)
There is the stored bulbs and seeds that need to be planted inside to give them a head start. In the north our growing season is short so we need to give some of the tender plants a head start. That said if you plant them too early they get leggy and weak. Time is crucial with young plants. So we watch, we wait and we take a guess as to when is the exact right time to plant. Not to early but not to late – knowing the last frost date for us is not until May 15. (But hey, they say it will be 70 here next Tuesday. Is the season coming early this year? Should I jump ahead and get things started? )
Next there are the plants that are old and large out in the garden that need to be divided and replanted for better health. This is also a guessing game – you want to dig them up and divide them before they grow their full leaves. It is less stressful for a plant if that change can happen early. So how early is early? When between the rain, or days like today when the temperatures drop near freezing or the hot days of 70 and sunny do we start that process? The plants need to have some green growth to help them along but not too much? How much is too much? It is anybody’s guess and it is different from plant to plant.
Then the last of the spring rush is the garden redesign that happens only once in awhile for most gardeners. This year, as last year is/was suppose to be a redesign for me. I have wanted to really switch things around. I want to change a few garden beds and add new ones. I have planned to add more bushes that flower and set berries for birds, add more native plants as I begin to remove those that are invasive or non native to my area. Whew – it is a lot of work and last year it did not happen. Life with a new grandchild and their mother working through breast cancer made those extra garden plans sit in my garden journal. Just not enough time in the rush of things. (even with being home with the pandemic)
Now it is 2021. We are in the waiting game stage – the last days or weeks. I have been sneaking in a bit of garden clean up early. Sorting through the small beds that have bulbs coming up but leaving some of the larger beds alone until the insect are out and also ready to “bug” me while I clean. I will tackle the indoor planting this weekend – we are about 6 to 8 weeks out from the final frost date so ideally this is a good time to start – tomatoes, pepper, and my dahlia, begonias and elephant ear plants. (if I don’t react to the vaccine that is! – so far so good – two hours out from the shot and doing ok) The plan is to get thing planted on Sunday.
The outdoor work will begin next week. Little Man, my grandson, will get his first big taste of gardening. It will be interesting to see how much we get done. His idea of gardening right now is to water everything all the time, including watering in the rain. He also feels it is important to find rockers (rocks – the bigger the better) and to throw them.
The spring rush is on – can we get it done before it the plants are to large or the days to hot? Can we get the long season plants growing enough that they will fruit before the fall frost hits us? Can things get divided and moved into old or new garden beds before it becomes stressful for the plant and it dies on me.
Whew! I am getting tired just writing it all out – I always think this will be the year – I will get ahead of things so I am not in this rush to complete tasks. I think if I plan just right it will be a slow and easy jump into the season. Well, I realize now spring is a rush not because I am poor at planning or a poor gardener. It is just the way the world of northerner gardening works.
It is what we set ourselves up for – not sure why but I am happy to keep doing it. Maybe this year I will feel better about the whole process since I finally realize it is not me it is just nature that has its own time table and we need to respect it not let it stress us out.
So here is a cheer to happy gardening!
– dirty hands and boots, old leaves, chewed up plants, new growth and flowering bushes!