Mating is just not for the birds. A reproductive tizzy has hit everything else out there: pollen flies from the fruit trees, stray honeybees are starved for nectar, and whirly-gig seed pods are flipping from the maple trees. It’s time, and mate with pod and earth they will whenever possible.
It’s a good time to put down the backbone of your vegetable and perennial garden while the fur is flying and the song of love-struck birds are in the air. Turning over the clods and soil in your garden brings up the good stuff from below. (It also brings the sly Robin who can smell overturned dirt and worms in the air.) While you’re turning over the soil, a good chunk of Bumper Crop tilled through helps your garden retain moisture and adds crucial minerals and organics to everything you plant. You’ll want those worms to stay -- they are the natural tillers and aerators of the earth.
Pea, Spinach, and Cabbage seeds can now be planted directly in the garden. They are cold-weather crops that love getting an early start. Small plants of lettuce, greens, Broccoli, and Brussel Sprouts take to the early spring chill, and can go right in your cold plot. Even the old stumps of cabbage from the fall (if not smushed from a freeze) can be planted in the garden to start all over again.
Perennials can always be planted as long as the ground can be worked. If you want to get a head start, plant them now—they’ve been accustomed to cool and warm and there’s a great selection in the perennial yard. They may be small in size, but getting them in now will give you a settled-in, magnanimous plant in the summer. The same goes for trees and shrubs. When they get a head start and are established in cool, moist soil, they do better. Fruit trees are ready to plant now. The stunning pinks of almond, peach, and redbud trees are especially stunning in early spring.
Early flowering seeds of cool-loving flowers can be planted directly out in the soil. Cold lovers like Sweet Pea need to be established in the cool before the warm months settle in. You can also plant a few seeds in a pot indoors, wait a couple of weeks until they’re about 2 inches high, then set out in the garden. They are troopers in the cool and will reward you with the sweetest smell on earth. There is truly nothing like the fragrance of a Sweet Pea. Other seeds that can be sown in the cool of early spring are Larkspur, Poppies, Delphinium, Bachelor Buttons and Violas. They’ll get a head start and be on their way by time it starts to warm.
Don’t let the hot and cold quirky Jersey Springs keep you out of the garden. There’s plenty to do. There’s enough love in the air to keep mother nature’s mating instincts as ardent as ever. It’s just a love- fest out there!
April 3, 2012
What’s Up in the Garden Now:
• Get your hummingbird feeders out and ready. When the swarm comes in from Central America, and they’re cold and hungry, they’ll swoop down to your yard for some rich nectar.
• Clean out your birdhouses if you can, and hang them up. Early maters will be out looking for prime real estate. Cut back your hybrid tea and floribunda roses. These roses benefit greatly from
a hard pruning and will greet you with more leaves and more flowers in early Summer. Roses need air circulation. Thinning out the weakest branches that face inward helps keep disease away.
• Keep the bird seed coming! Winter feeding helps the birds survive, but spring
and summer feeding bring on a whole new show. Safflower seed is addicting to
the Cardinal, and Niger seed will bring a fabulous show of full-yellow plumaged
Goldfinches to your feeders by the 100’s.
• There’s still always a chance of frost before May. If you’re worried, the cold broccoli and greens and pansies can handle it. There’s nothing like an old blanket, thrown on top of other plants to protect from frost if you’re the super careful type.