It’s Early April and the snow has , mostly, melted. It is pretty early to do much of anything in the garden and yard right now. If the soil is very wet you will have to wait to walk on it. Walking on soggy soil causes compaction which means you’ll be squashing the soil, making it very dense around the roots of the plants and basically sufficating them. But, there are chores you can do to help you get ready for the planting season ahead.
- Cleaning- sorry, yep we all need to clean things before we can really get to the good stuff. Take stock of your good pots and wash them well. Get rid of cracked or brittle pots. If you are at all concerned about disease issues from the plants that were in them before, soak them in a bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) over-night. Do this for plastic and terra-cotta pots. Be sure and clean away any old soil chunks and/ or dried plant bits before you start the soaking process.
- Also, take a good look at your tools. Do they have crusty, old soil stuck to them, are they rusting, do they need sharpening. Take the time now to address your tools and purchase new ones if necessary, before you want to get out and use them. Sweep out the shed and greenhouse, knock down the cobwebs, sweep away the mouse droppings.
- For garden pond owners now is a good time to see if your fish and frogs made it through the winter. Remove anyone that did not 🙁 Add a spring bacterial product to start working on breaking down organic matter left from last fall. It is also a good idea to give your fish some Stress Coat and pond salt to help get through the weeks ahead. Spring temperature fluctuations can be hard on pond fish so treat them with care for awhile. Once your water is warm enough and your fish are more active you can start feeding them again. Use a spring/ fall fish food at first while the water is fairly cold. Scoop out any and all leaf, twig debris and replace rocks and stones that may have shifted under the snow.
- Where you can tread, look for broken branches that need pruning on trees and shrubs.
- Repair and/ or straighten fences, plant supports, arbors, trellises, obelisks, etc.
I am sure I could come up with more, but that’s a good start. Early-early spring is a great time to get prepared for the planting season. Preparing now will ensure that you can really enjoy the beautiful weather ahead and get your weeding, digging and planting done with ease and joy. Taking care of the pond starting now means it will be in tip-top condition for the summer.
Going Organic is a Way of Life
A new set of catch phrases has emerged with the recent movement toward “green” living. It is now hip to be “Going Green”. Environmental sustainability, recycling, reusing, and reducing are the words of the day. With luck, this time it will stick. These ideas are not new. I am sure some of us remember that American Indian shedding tears on the banks of a polluted waterway? That old public service commercial, urging us not to pollute, rings truer today than ever.
In the gardening world the big deal is going organic. In this modern day filled with fungicides, herbicides and insecticides organics seem like a complicated and new fangled idea. On the contrary, prior to the dawning of DDT, organics were the only way to garden. It is still possible to find a person today who could speak firsthand about an ancient way of life, where recycling meant using the horse manure in the vegetable garden. It was a time when good crop management practices kept garden pests at a minimum. Chickens in the garden fed on tomato hornworms and cabbage loopers. Nothing was wasted. Even egg shells and coffee grounds were reused as compost.
Organic principles are a way of life. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Start a compost pile. There are many different ways to compost, there is one to suit every kind of gardener. Even if you don’t garden, your compost might be a valuable gift to a neighbor or family member. Compost is a valuable and important source of fertilizer and soil amendment.
- Walk your yard and garden every day. Take a few minutes each day to do an inspection. Many pest and disease problems can be nipped in the bud without pesticides if they are identified early. Get down at plant level and pay attention. It’s good for both you and your plants.
- Learn the difference between good bugs and bad bugs. It is never a good idea to just kill every bug you see. You could be wiping out a predatory insect that is working on your side. Know your enemy; you will be a more effective general.
- Choose your plants and their placement wisely. Perhaps the simplest idea yet is to put the right plant in the right place. Gardening and landscaping with plants suitable for your conditions will prevent a great deal of problems. Try working with Mother Nature, not against her.
- Think about children and pets. Don’t apply anything to your yard, lawn, or garden that you wouldn’t want your kids or pets to come in contact with. Carefully weigh your priorities and look for less toxic solutions to your yard and garden needs. There is almost always a cleaner, greener, healthier way.