As pagans, many of us feel a connection to the earth in our religion and ritual. Taking that into your life with gardening can be a great next step toward aligning your actions with your values. There’s a lot that can be done in that grey zone after the snow has melted and before the trees have budded, so here’s a guide to some mid-spring activities to keep you busy before the beach opens.
Gardening Tasks for Early Spring:
Clean out unwanted plant volunteers
Look for first or second-year trees growing in your garden beds and near your house, and cut them down with pruners. There’s a temptation to wait and see what it is sometimes, but most of the time you don’t want a tree there. It’s far better to kill that tree and actually buy a tree from a garden center. I broke that rule last fall, as one does, and transplanted a tulip tree to my side yard. It was growing right next to my house which would have been really bad. Tulip trees grow quickly and get large which could easily damage the foundation.
Rake out your garden beds
After the snow thaws and things have dried out a little. I prefer to use a garden rake, rather than a leaf rake. Pull the garden rake lightly over the surface of the leaves and detritus and you will find that most of it will come right out, leaving the tiny growth of bulbs and other early spring plants untouched. It works better to do this in the spring than in the fall because the plant material softens and starts to decompose over the cold months so it’s easier to rake. As an added bonus, it’s better for beneficial insects as well, if you wait until temps rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Many insects will overwinter in plants and leaves in your garden beds.
Prune your trees bushes and shrubs before they begin to sprout leaves
First, cut out branches that cross or are rubbing on each other. Prune suckers next. Suckers are very straight upward-looking branches growing on the inside of the bush or tree, including around the base of the trunk. You should prune all suckers at the base of the trunk, and most of the suckers internally. However, never take more than a third of the bush off in one year, so if you have to leave a few, do so. Next year, finish cleaning up that bush. After that, prune for looks, to create the shape or idea that you are looking for. This is the artistic part of pruning. Look for the buds that turn outward and prune the branches just above those buds. The topmost bud will be the primary growth for the new branch. By choosing carefully, you can control how the bush will grow.
Know your last frost date for your area so that you can look at the seed packet and know when to plant those seeds. If you’re sowing the seeds indoors before the last frost you count back the number of weeks listed on the packet from that date. I suggest seeding into those small peat pellets to start and then planting up newspaper pots. (we will talk about transplanting in the next post.) I would not recommend planting into eggshells or into egg cartons. They’re just not big enough and the roots have a hard time growing through them. I would recommend getting a potmaker, which easily turns newspaper into one-time use pots that roots can easily grow through. The cheapest is from Richter’s Seeds in Canada since it was invented by the owner.
Good luck with your gardening, and may Gerda guide your hands.
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