Mar 14

Opening Day

My gardening season officially starts on March 24th this year. That was the day I will sow the peas. Sugar Snap, Mr. Big, Knight andLincoln; three 12-foot rows on a raised bed. Two hours of quiet time turning soil and counting worms.

People can argue that the season begins when the seed catalogs arrive in your mailbox in December, but that is just off-season anticipation. At that time I am still crunching numbers from last season. Did I keep the lettuce in too long? Did I bring out the peppers too early? Was it a mistake going with just one variety of eggplant? Did the mid-season acquisition of the container tomatoes increase my yield?

This is heady stuff, how do I improve on last year? Do I barter with another seed saver and make some block buster trades? Am I willing to spend extra money for larger gladiola corms or lily bulbs? Am I just going to used compost or will I bring in some peat moss to improve soil conditions; and is it going to all of the beds or just the farm team? Is this the year I exceed the square-footage cap and turn some more lawn into another flower bed?

What about the seedlings growing under the lights in February and March, surely that the beginning of the growing season. That’s spring training. I still don’t know how many plants and variety of each I will be fielding. I am currently in talks with other gardeners and might make some trades when the seedlings are transplanted to individual pots. Those trades will be finalized after the plants pass their physicals to ensure they are free of insects or diseases.

All of that will soon be out of my control, the season will start and I will have to go with the plants on hand. In the vegetable garden beets, parsnip, peas, radish and spinach can be sowed. In a couple of weeks, broccoli, garlic, lettuce (plants and seed), onions, gladiola and lily can go in. As soon as the soil warms about 50OF, you’re looking at the tender bulbs; dahlia, elephant ear, calla and cannas.

April is the busiest time of the year for gardeners. As soon as you turn that first spade full of soil you will not stop until everything is planted. In what little time you have left, you should be purchasing, cleaning and sharpening your tools; especially the lawnmower blade. Lay out and clear new planting beds now, you never know what the garden centers are bringing in.

The bugs and insects are coming out and looking for places to hang out; don’t be an enabler. Prune all of the dead and broken branches from your shrubs. That is for the compost pile, not the yard waste pick-up. Rake up the leaves and dead plant matter from last year’s daylily, iris, and peony. Turn some of the planting beds now to expose larva to feed the birds. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to pull a dandy lion now versus the end of the month. A little effort now saves a lot of work later.

For the record, last year the lettuce did go to seed, two pepper plants died, I did spend the extra money for larger bulbs, and I am going to pay a Honey Do tax for exceeding the square footage cap.

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