Spring Garden Tips

“Even in the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer”
-Albert Camus

Though the light spends little time gracing the farm with its warmth there is plenty to do to prepare for the coming season. It is especially nice to tend to these things before March madness finds us. Here are eight things we make sure to fit in before the Spring Equinox finds us.

1. Review our notes
Over the previous season, we try and keep careful notes on what we do and when. We have a look at the past growing season notes. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to repeat the timing and techniques that brought us bounty and success and hopefully avoid the farm fails for the coming season.

2. Tool Rehab, Tractor Maintenance and Tractor Implement Repairs
We inventory our tools-sharpen and make any needed repairs and make a list of anything that needs to be replaced. Our tractor spends some time in the shop, where we carefully look it over, do any needed welds and fluid flushing. We also want to make sure our tractor implements; disc, tiller, bed shaper etc. are ready to roll. Dry windows in the Spring can be tough to find so we want the equipment ready to rock and roll so we can get the field work done before rain finds us.

3. Prune
We get in our woody shrub plot and our small orchard and prune judiciously. Pruning deciduous plants in the winter promotes fast regrowth in the spring, as most plants are dormant during the winter. It’s also easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter since their foliage is gone.
Prune on a mild, dry day.

When pruning, first prune out dead and diseased branches.

Then remove the overgrown and smaller branches to increase light and air at the crown of the tree.
In general, your goal is to keep the branches that develop or maintain the structure of the tree.

Cut branches at the node, the point at which one branch attaches to another.

4. Weed
Moist winter soils make for great weeding conditions. We try and get a hand on the chickweed and ground ivy while the gettin’s good. They are some of the most prolific and aggressive weeds we have at the farm. It nice to have a good handle on the winter weeds before the spring ones find us.

5. Clean up the greenhouse
Sweep up debris. Pull any weeds that have come up in the house. We then take the time to sanitize all of our cell flats, pots, and benches to prevent disease and damping off when we get out seedlings going.

6. Buy Seeds and Plant Materials.
Our goal is to have 90% of our ordering done by December 1st. This ensures that we get all the color and varieties that we want.

7. Sow Seeds
Flowers like delphinium, campanula, godetia, sweet peas, etc needs more time to germinate. We start sowing those beauties in late January/early February.

8. Dream of pretty little somethings.
Woodstove, seed catalogs, and a cuppa tea.