phylthumb1By Phyllis Galowitz

Oh… my garden! First 4 feet of snow fell during the final week of February. The snowplows, pushing it to the sides of the driveway, created 14 foot drifts, covering bordering evergreens, azaleas, red dogwood and probably much more that I haven’t seen yet. As the snow, still melting after a week of warm afternoons and cold nights, slowly reveals what lies beneath, I see broken branches everywhere. As soon as the snow is gone and the ground dries sufficiently to walk on, I’ll have to do some severe pruning. I imagine there will be huge, bare spots until those bushes come back to life, if they do. I’m thinking that possibly some tall-growing annuals, perhaps cosmos, will fill the bare spaces.


The late February snowstorm buried everything in its path

Looking back in my gardening journal, I see that March to early April has always been too wet to do very much but wait. In the meantime, the daffodils, crocuses and other spring bulbs will start to emerge. The soil will dry enough to begin planting seeds that can take some cold nights. The flowering trees and bushes will bloom and Andes will be reborn! Early April can still bring snow and rather cold temperatures but there will be warm afternoons. Phoebes and peepers will sing their songs of spring, inspiring us to work in the garden when we can.

It’s a busy month. There will be lots of cleaning up, finishing what we abruptly stopped doing in the fall when the weather suddenly turned too cold and we hibernated, along with the chipmunks, until spring. We can cover the cleaned beds of the vegetable garden with landscape fabric to warm the soil and keep the weeds from coming up, in preparation for planting. If you’re planning to grow your own seedlings, it’s time to start them indoors now.

It’s also the time to transplant overgrown houseplants into larger pots. Arrange the plants in order of pot size. Set out potting soil, plant food, broken crockery and thoroughly scrubbed pots. As the largest pot is emptied into the next larger size pot, the next smaller one can be planted in it (after it has been scrubbed). Start with broken crockery to cover the drainage hole. Add a layer of peat humus. Fill about a third of the pot with soil, then turn out the next smaller plant and place the root ball in the center of the prepared pot. While holding it in place, pour the soil around the roots, making sure to pack it firmly. Water it well, giving it some plant food at the same time. Follow this procedure working down to the smallest plant. For very large plants, not as easy to transplant, scratch off the surface soil as far down as you can, without disturbing the roots. Refill with new potting soil and plant food. The enriched soil will pass food down to the roots and replace the nutrients that are missing. When repotting, the new pot should only be a little larger than the old one. Too large a pot holds water for too long. The plant can’t utilize the moisture and the roots will rot.

Gradually move houseplants outdoors. They are used to moderate light and even temperatures. A covered porch or enclosed sunroom is a good intermediate move, and then a shady, protected spot in the garden until the plant is finally put in its place in the sun. On these cold nights that can occur in April and even May, bring the plants back to their protected environment or cover them loosely.

Don’t try to do too much at one time. Do only what you enjoy doing. Know your limits and gardening will be a pleasure, not a chore. ~