This is why we garden

This is the time of year many gardeners have waited for.

The ice is gone from the lake, the buds are swelling, and the days are longer. Go out into the garden and brush away some leaves or dirt and behold the emerging buds. These buds will turn into lush growth in just a few weeks.
After a winter that has held on this does not seem possible, but it will happen! Should wrinkle creams be so effective!

Horsford Garden and Nursery on Route 7 has a sign that announces, or predicts, “4 more (or 2 more) weeks.” Is that how many weeks until spring or until they open? It doesn’t matter, it is a good omen.

It is not necessary to be a gardener to marvel at this time of year. A walk outside will reveal trees and shrubs in bud. Soon every shade of green will present itself. Many cultures celebrate this time of year of new growth as renewal of life. Be sure to enjoy this time.

But now some chores for the gardeners amongst us.

If you did not quite achieve the entire cleanup last fall, now is the time. Gently rake or brush the debris away from plants and cut or gently pull dead leaves and stalks. Be careful to not disturb the new growth.

If you see weeds now that the ground is damp, it is a good time (well, any time is a good time when it comes to weeds) to pull them. If you have some good compost, layer it on lightly. It is not too early to apply a light dusting of 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Pruning needs to be done or finished. Supposedly, when George Aiken was governor of Vermont and an apple grower, he was asked when is the best time to prune. He answered, “I do it when the saw is sharp.” Certainly roses, tree peonies and other bushes can use a haircut.

If you have a drip water hose system, now is a great time to lay it out when you have a clear view of the ground. Also, peony cages can be set up.

You can plant out cold weather crops such as kale, spinach, peas, lettuce or brussel sprouts. Warm weather plants, such as tomatoes, peppers or eggplant, need to wait until the ground temperature is at least 60 degrees. Probably not this week.

It is also okay to plant perennials such as day lilies, ferns, aastilbe or bleeding heart.

Now, on to pests. Some gardeners have great success with hot red pepper flakes on tulips when planting in the fall. As the tulips emerge, a spray of hot red pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper works well at this time of year. A hungry cat or loud dog can help as well.

Be aware of ticks even at this time of year. Folks have been bitten already. Make sure your cat and dog have tick and flea protection as well.

Many pests, including the horrid red lily beetle, thrive in leaf or other litter. So, as mentioned above, best to keep your garden clean. Spray the lilies with neem oil as they emerge or just have revenge and flip the bugs into warm sudsy water. Or just squish them.

For now, ignore the pests and enjoy.