Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Garden Prepping in New England, Part I

One of the things we have learned living in New England is that we have to take advantage of the sunshine when we can. Spring can be a dreary, rainy time, which is depressing coming right out of a snowy, cold winter; but on those sporadic sunshiny days, we have to get out there and do what we can. This week, though it is not yet April, a time when we could still experience a heavy, spring snowstorm, we are being blessed with temperatures in the mid 50s and clear, blue skies. Although the nights are still far too chilly for planting anything outdoors (and will be for at least another two months), we are using this time to clean up the yard, the garden, and the surrounding area, in preparation for the coming gardening season. Here is a list of what we accomplished today.

This morning at eleven a.m., my daughters and I headed out into the front yard to clean up the first of the debris from winter. We homeschool, and have decided to take this week off school, since the weather is so favorable for garden-prepping. The winter was not nearly as cold as many years, but we had a lot of wind. With several oak trees dotting our front yard, as well as woods surrounding the entire property, we had our share of leaves, sticks, branches, and other debris that simply needed to go. We began raking the lawn from the street up toward the house, thatching the grass as we went, scooping up acorns, gathering sticks and limbs, and putting all the debris into plastic bags. The sun was high in the sky and there was only a slight breeze. Soon, we took off our fleece sweaters and worked in jeans and t-shirts. It was hard work. After a wet winter with little outdoor activity, we were out of shape, but sorely in need of fresh air.

After about an hour and a half, we took a break and sat on our sunny front steps enjoying soda and popcorn. At that point, my daughter brought out her CD player and we enjoyed getting back to work to the tunes of Kenny Chesney and Kelly Clarkson. We raked, scooped, bagged, and actually finished cleaning and clearing the entire main section of our front yard. As we worked, we talked. We talked about which bushes need to go - the ones that are not as seemly as they ought to be (or once were) and we talked about where we would put our flowers once the weather allowed. We planned the window boxes and imagined where we might like to plant a few lilac bushes. One of my daughters even suggested we plant an apple tree. It was a brainstorming session and all ideas were great ones. The yard clean up was therapeutic to us all; fresh air, sunshine, good company, planning, and of course, the satisfaction of looking out at the clean yard, just waiting for spring to arrive.

After we finished for the day, my daughters talked me into setting up our trampoline, a bit earlier than we normally do. After all their hard work, I agreed, and now they are out there jumping to their hearts content, which they will probably do until it gets dark. This will help them to sleep well, so we can get back to work again in the morning.

It is currently the end of March, and in New England, we cannot be assured of frost free nights until the end of May. Yet, in a few weeks, we will plant our seedlings indoors and let them flourish in our sunny living room. We will continue to prepare the rest of the yard all this week, as we take advantage of these unusually warm, dry, sunny days of early spring. If we continue to be blessed with this wonderful weather, our gardening will be well underway when the season finally arrives.

Until then, we will plod on and make use of any sunny days that are sent our way. As New Englanders, we understand the need to make hay while the sun shines. Stay tuned and we will continue to share our adventures in gardening. Today we have finished for the day, but tomorrow, more sunshine is in the forecast, with even warmer temperatures. See you then!

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