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The first days in the spring garden


The first real days in the garden are special. The jobs at this time of year are not particularly exciting or interesting, but I usually write about them anyway because being back in the garden is special in and of itself.

Although the weekend here wasn’t all that nice, we’re looking at some more seasonal temperatures for the week, which means things can quickly get out of control and whatever I can do before that happens is a good time investment.

Temporary greenhouse
The temporary greenhouse is finally up and there are a few seedlings in it. I move seedlings from the house to here when it’s safe to give them more light and work on hardening them off, but mostly to get them out of my house.

Among the must-do jobs were finishing the cleanup of the site of the former (and future) vegetable garden. We started this job more than a month ago but couldn’t  get far because the raised beds were frozen solid. Now that they’ve thawed, we had to finish pulling out the old posts, move the plants I had heeled in for winter and move a lilac that will be a bit too close to the new vegetable garden.

It’s worth making a note on the lilac. I believe it’s ‘Miss Kim’ but I’m not positive. I bought it probably 10 years ago as a plug, nursed it in pots for three or more years and planted it when it was about a foot tall. Now it’s over 6 feet tall. I hope it manages the move because I have a special place in my heart for plants I’ve grown from infancy. I won’t allow it to flower this year (oh, OK, maybe one or two flowers; I’m still human) so it can focus its energy into its roots.

rhubarb emerging from the ground
I think rhubarb is so exotic looking as it emerges from the ground.

I’m hoping that the area for the new vegetable garden will be graded and leveled this week. It’s difficult to get a slot in landscapers’ schedules with our late spring. Many of them are operating a month behind.

Cleaning beds and getting on top of the garlic mustard are at the top of the routine garden maintenance list. This year I’m adopting an idea from Margaret Roach to work on the gardens closest to the house first. In the past I’ve done those last, as the proverbial carrot at the end of the garden clean-up stick, but what often ended up happening was that I’d run out of time to do them property before everything started coming up.

Clematis shoots
I was thrilled to see this very happy clematis sending up so many shoots in the front patio bed.

My plan for the spring cleanup is to work through small areas, doing all the jobs that need doing. This includes raking out whole, matted leaves (many beds are mulched with shredded leaves, and this remains undisturbed), cutting back perennials or vines that were left standing, pulling weeds, fertilizing clematis and doing any other pruning that is necessary. As you can probably guess I didn’t get nearly as far as I had hoped to over the weekend, but that is my standard gardening procedure: Make a list a mile long and then finish two things on it. I give myself a break on this. You can only do what you can do.

unearthing roses protected by rose collars
I unearthed the David Austin roses from their rose collars, which was a new method of protection that I tried this year. I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how it worked out: There were nice, big fat buds in the area that was protected.

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty tired by the end of the weekend. I forget how much hard work gardening can be. But the tired that comes after a weekend in the garden, especially in spring, is the best kind of tired there is. And gin and tonic helps.


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7 Responses

  1. It is a process hardening off plants and our muscles in spring. It sounds like you have your work cut out for you. I too am busy trying to get the garden ready for summer. Plants are hopping…

    1. Lake Michigan’s moderating presence is helping us in that regard. It’s all very slow and steady here, other than the chives, which appear to grow two inches every night. Short springs do feel like we’re being robbed a bit.

  2. Oh what fun. It does feel good to play in the dirt after a long winter. I too can hardly wait to move more of my plants outside (from my kitchen.)

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