Any early spring allows for many projects
It’s amazing what a difference a week can make when it comes to the seasons in the North. Within five days there was a temperature difference of 70 degrees, in the warmer direction for a change. Given the long and cold winter we have had, that was a welcome surprise for the earlier weeks of March. Unlike the rest of the country, we received very little snow in our area this season, and it is going very quickly. Getting the frost to leave the ground will take a bit longer since it is so deep this year.
As soon as the ground reappears, there is already plant material beginning to show life. Portions of the lawn begin to take on a richer hue of green. Perennials such as iris and penstemon begin to grow from their base, while others kept their color and winter-hardy leaves to look just as good in the spring as they did in the autumn season.
It won’t be long before we see the first spring bulbs poking their green spears from the ground to be the first of the flowers that will bloom in the garden. In the coming week, the pussy willows will begin to pop seed heads with a silvery shimmer in the daylight. Remember, if you want to harvest a fresh batch of pussy willow stems for inside the home, trim them from the bush before the yellow pollen begins to show for best lasting quality.
If you are growing impatient and want to get into the yard on one of these nice spring days, try not to uncover too many things early in the gardens as we still have the potential to get very cold temperatures and spring snow. However, there are things you can do that need to be done early. Walk around the yard and clean up all the fallen branches that hit the ground from our numerous snowless blizzards this year.
March is the best month to start trimming the grapevines before the sap begins to flow. Containers in the yard or garage that still may have soil in them can be emptied, cleaned and sterilized for the new planting season. If you have dogs that use the yard during the winter, I don’t even need to remind you that there is a hefty project waiting for cleanup that has been five months in the making.
If you have deciduous shrubs or trees that need pruning, this is the time to do those chores before the buds break. Keep in mind that trees and shrubs that bloom in the spring should wait until after they bloom for trimming so you don’t miss a season of color and scent.
Some people still have Christmas lights and decorations in the yard that can be taken down at this time. I know I just took my lights down this past week. It was a great way to spend time outdoors and still be able to complete a project that needed to be done.
Go through your garden tools and make sure everything is clean, usable and ready for the new season. Discard broken items and obtain something new while it is still early. Check the lawn mower and make sure it is in working order as it won’t be long before you are needing to cut the grass and you don’t want to have delays at that time.
Take stock of the garden with a notebook and see what projects need to be done before you can plant in the gardens. Maybe keep it as simple as making a plan of where you want to plant things during the growing season. Look at perennials and see which ones are due for dividing, as this project can be done by the end of April, given the ground is dry enough to work in. It is always best to divide perennials before they reach 2 to 3 inches in height for best success.
Maybe the deck or patio took a beating over the winter and needs a new paint or stain job. Get your products now, so once the temperatures are warm enough, you are set to get it done. Maybe fences, arbors, or walkways need to be mended or require a change for something new. These items can be worked on regardless if it is warm enough to grow plants. With fingers crossed, April just might be that month for us that we can get a lot of those things done.
Clean out the birdhouses and get them set for the new nesting season and make sure your birdbaths are clean and ready to go. These are requirements to keep the birds happy during this early stage of the game. By mid-May, natural food becomes available in the gardens, and you are safe to clean and store your birdfeeders. If you are one that enjoys feeding all year long, keep filling them and encouraging new types to enter the garden along with the addition of the hummingbird feeders.
This is even prime time for planting seeds indoors such as tomatoes, peppers and flowers that may take a little longer to grow. Most packages say to plant eight to 10 weeks before the last frost. We are about 10 weeks away from Memorial Day weekend at this point. Seems like a long time away, but time will go very quickly.
Spring officially arrives this coming week, and these are all things that can be done over the next month or two before the planting season arrives. Plan ahead and make the most of these great spring days, as they too will soon be gone.