All is Forgiven

Dear Mother Nature,

I’m very sorry for how I have been speaking about you lately.  I’ve said some harsh things about the constant snow, frigid temperatures and the delay of any spring like weather.   Maybe I haven’t been seeing the big picture.  All the adult winter moths are gone! Other pests and diseases took a good hit so hopefully there will be less to contend with for a while. The plants had a  nice snow blanketed sleep and are looking all the better for it as they emerge from dormancy.

Also, I can’t complain about the consistent moisture all winter so we don’t have to worry about  a drought at the moment.  Trees have had a rough time with all the heavy snow and broken branches but we have to cull to open up the canopy for light to reach the forest floor and new life to thrive.  Also the boon of firewood for clambakes this summer and next winter’s fireplace is great as well.

I think the hardest thing for me is the lack of color.  It is so stark and empty with browns and greys all around.  Although, the crisp blinding white of snow cover and ice outlining every twig does make me see the bones of the garden without distraction. The clean pallet of piercing blue or steel grey sky and brown and grey earth make me see where evergreen or punches of color are needed.  When I do see color it is like a miracle.  Some great gift that I have to capture on my camera and share as fast as I can to show others what I’ve found.

Sound has been lacking as well.  For a while there was the racket of chain saws and the drone of generators but I mean those sounds that only happen in the spring.  Red winged blackbirds, spring songs of chickadees and the best of course are the peepers and frogs.  My boys are so tired of me stopping the car and silencing them or leading them down to the wet in the far field to listen.  I can’t get enough.

I do thank you for letting me see my world differently for a while, letting me feel the cold to yearn for warmth, to empty the garden of all work and color to appreciate it when it has returned.

I give in. I guess that you do know what’s best.

Your faithful servant


P.S. That afternoon on the couch with the Downton Abbey marathon wasn’t so bad either! THX!




Stark beauty of winter

Stark beauty of winter

2 Comments | March 29th, 2013

Compost is beautiful

compost hands


It’s getting to be compost time!  This is the time you can get out there and add a  lovely layer of life giving nutrition to your gardens and lawns.  Actually any time is a good time to add compost except for when there is snow cover so wait for that to disappear.  There is no good rule of thumb for adding compost to garden beds and it is hard to over do it.  A good inch is wonderful and an inch or two is fantastic.  Sometimes it’s hard to get enough to do all this (especially if you make your own) so you may need to just do as much as you can.  If you are very limited add it to areas surrounding your plants or in the planting holes for now.  Any that you can do is better than nothing.

When composting a lawn I like to make small piles dotted all around the lawn and rake them evenly into the lawn with a hard rake.  It’s okay if you see some compost when you are done  as the rain will help wash it down into the tiny spaces between the grass blades where it will work.  After composting a lawn I like to add grass seed over it.  The young seeds will root in this fertile layer and give your lawn a lush new green coating of grass. If your lawn is in very poor shape do this spring and fall.

Adding compost to your garden is the single best thing you can do for it.  Compost by definition is organic matter that has decomposed.  This decomposition takes raw material and breaks it down by bacterial activity into humus.  Humus is the finished product after decomposition takes place.  Compost is beneficial in many ways.  First it covers the soil like a blanket helping to retain moisture and keep weed growth down. It can help with soil erosion from heavy storms as well.  It is a soil conditioner making heavy or clay soils softer and making it easier for plants to get their roots in and it gives loose sandy soil more structure and strength.

The best thing it does is to add nutrition your garden soil.  These raw materials are transformed by soil bacteria and fungi into the nutrients plants need for growth.  Compost adds material to the soil the same way nature does.  Nature deposits leaves and other plant material to the surface of the soil to protect it and to be used by the plants as food. Most gardeners remove these materials from their beds for aesthetic purposes.  Compost is your way of putting it back in a more aesthetically pleasing form.

Compost is also a great way to recuce your trash bill.  You will be amazed at how much less trash you  have by composting all your kitchen waste.  Remember not to add any meat or dairy but just about anything else will compost well.  The more variety the more nutritious your compost.  I find it pleasing when the material I take from the lawn or garden gets composted and returned to it.  It closes the loop just as nature does.

More on how and what to compost soon….






No Comments | tags: , , | March 18th, 2013

Spring is here. Now what?

Try to remember last year at this time.  Daffodils were already blooming, it was in the 50-60’s and we already had weeding to do.  This year is vastly different.  We just lost the last of our snow cover from all the storms but I watched the weather at lunch time and they are hinting on more snow for next week.  That is why when gardening you never watch the calender but you do watch for nature’s signs.  They will tell you when it is time to do certain things.

Obviously snow in mid March isn’t here for a very long time so even if it does come down it will melt quickly. Time for chores is here  so here is what I do.  First don’t go slogging around in garden beds when the soil is muddy.  This doesn’t do anyone any good.  Always leave the soil until it is moist but crumbly.  Sort of like chocolate cake.  When it is like this you can think about planting some seeds.

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day and is traditionally the day to plant your first peas.  I almost always plant them on this date but conditions dictate where.  If it is warm and dry they can go right into a row in the veg garden.  If it is colder and muddy they sometimes can do well in the raised bed area as this drains off faster than the garden.  Once or twice I’ve planted them in pots sitting in the path of the garden.  I don’t get much from these but it makes me feel happy that I’ve done it.

Other than that at this time of year you should collect fallen branches( of which there are many this year) and make brush piles either for burning later or as a habitat for beneficials to nest in.  Then you can get the pruning done on your fruit trees.  Take off all water sprouts and any damaged, diseased or dead branches.  Then work your way to the very vertical, crossed or otherwise annoying branches. When done your trees should look like a bird could fly through without much difficulty.  This allows the fruit to get ripened by the sun as well as helps with good air circulation to help prevent rotting.

As soon as it dries out a bit start on edging and raking and then it will be time to spread compost. More on that later


Skimmia japonica and dafodils


2 Comments | tags: | March 12th, 2013