By Phyllis Galowitz
March makes sure you know that even though the calendar says, “First Day of Spring” on the 20th, winter still is very much in evidence in Andes, and will be for quite a while. I’ve enjoyed the lazy days of winter, happily sitting by the fire, reading and listening to music as the snow falls outside. I haven’t had to contend with insects (except the ones that bother houseplants) or think about watering or heat exhaustion. It has crossed my mind that maybe I should cut back on gardening, then the beautiful Burpee catalogue came, and I’m hooked again! Who can resist the longing to pick a ripe tomato in August or snip fresh greens just before mixing a salad? How can you beat the flavor of freshly picked green beans or sugar snap peas, and what about picking berries as they ripen, still warm from the sun and bursting with juice?
I will plant more perennials that will come back every year without much care on my part. I’ll spend more time enriching and mulching the soil, as soon as the weather permits, so that I don’t have to spend so much time weeding or watering. I’ll start out with ready-grown seedlings wherever possible, to eliminate the need for transplanting. I’ll cover the prepared beds of the vegetable garden with landscape fabric to warm the soil a little faster, keep the weeds from competing with newly planted vegetables, and keep the ripening vegetables from dragging on the ground, susceptible to insects, worms, and rot.
All this will trim my gardening chores in half.
Ordering seeds or plants from a reputable dealer or garden shop is worthwhile, even though they may be more expensive. The quality of the seeds is better and less prone to disease.
Of course, if you’re not as lazy as I am, you can save quite a bit of money, and enjoy the experience of planting from seed and maybe grow plants that are not available at the local greenhouse. When buying bedding plants, make sure the foliage is healthy and sturdy, that they are not dry. If you buy plants ahead of the safe time for planting, make sure you have the right conditions to grow them under cover properly.
In the meantime, purchase the materials needed to start your gardening chores as early as you can. One day soon, the sun will shine, the temperature will rise, the snow will melt, and we’ll be lured into the garden again!