Itchy fingers

It happens every year. A few mild days fool the garden – and me – into thinking it’s spring. A few brave bulbs send up their flowers, the seed catalogues arrive and my fingers start itching to get out there and plant something. Some of the over-wintering vegetables shift into gear, and fresh sprouting broccoli, kale and chard arrive in the kitchen.

Not so fast! Inevitably, a February deep freeze or snowfall reminds me that it is still winter. Patience. It is tempting to start digging or seeding, but the ground is too wet and cold. I don’t want to compact the soil, as I don’t till my garden. A light loosening of the soil before planting is all I do. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing, and so do the worms. They will work in the mulch better than I can, without damaging the soil structure. The garden fork will also find any rocks that are rising to the surface so I can remove them from the beds. Every spring, I find a couple of boulders lurking in the raised beds. It never ceases to amaze me.

A bit of pruning and tidying can be done now, and a lot of dreaming about what I will plant when things warm up. I contemplate the successes of previous years and decide what varieties to plant and where their next rotation will be. Moving crops to different beds each year can greatly reduce pests and diseases in the garden. The exception, of course, are the perennial plants such as asparagus. I keep the asparagus bed well-weeded and mulched and remove any growth that shows signs of trouble. A bit of prevention goes a long way.

Despite the odd snowfall or downpour, the temperatures have been quite mild and the grass is growing in the pastures. The ewes and lambs are enjoying the new growth and more room to roam, but the fields are being closely watched so they don’t get too muddy or grazed too heavily.The sheep are kept in the barn overnight to protect them from predators, and the little lambs benefit from a warm, sheltered spot to sleep.

I will take advantage of my warm, sheltered spot to plan for future glory in the garden. Stay warm and comfy, my friends.