Spring Gardening Tasks

March 30th, 2007

Crocuses We’ve had an interesting Spring for sure. Winter was mild until February when it got really cold, and the cold lasted up until early March and then it was like a switch was flipped and instead it got really warm. What does this all mean?

Well, for me, everything is early. Last year I posted that I got my first blooms on April 6th. This year I got them March 18th. I already have a rose (pictured) and a lilac leafing out… and it is still March… in Michigan. My daylilies have already started growing, some are a decent ways along, so I know those will be blooming early this year as well. In fact the only hardy perennial I have that isn’t yet growing are my hostas & astilbes, but probably only because they’re planted in the shade.

This has also allowed me to get out earlier (Though not as much the last few weeks as I would have liked because while it has been warm, it has always been rainy) and do some Spring gardening tasks, which I plan to sum up in this post.

The first task was merely to walk around and inspect things for Winter damage. I didn’t notice much however my blueberry bushes had been eaten by the rabbits. I’m used to the rabbits eating deciduous shrubs and small trees, but they only seem to like certain kinds. So I now put metal fencing around my hydrangeas, bamboo, hardy kiwi, small trees, thornless roses, and trumpet vine. Other bushes I have such as barberries the rabbits have never eaten before and so I do not protect. This was true last winter when my blueberries were new, but in this, their second winter, the rabbits went to town. So I’ve ordered replacements and next winter I’ll have to protect them as well.

The next big thing I did was deal with all the debris left over from last year’s growing season. I cut down all the woody stems from my flowering perennials, I cut back my 3 buddleia to a large degree, and otherwise did some pruning and ended up with a huge pile of woody materials.
Rose Leafing Out

So, I got a small chipper for my birthday in early March and I put it to good use on my brush pile. This thing is perfect for my needs. It handles branches up to an inch and a half thick, which is fine for me. I have a small yard and I live in a city, I don’t need to regularly shred big branches. But I do often have smaller branches from prunings or storm damage and of course all the woody leftovers from last year. I could toss these things directly in a compost pile, but they compost slow and get all tangled and make the pile hard to turn. This thing really turns what would be trash into treasure.

So I shredded it all and ended up with about 15 gallons worth of woody chips, which I then fed into my new composter. It hasn’t yet been 2 weeks for checking on the results, but a few days after I loaded up the composter I opened it up and steam literally came out. It was definitely heated up.

My new shredder also does leaves, but not very well. However I do have one of these leaf mulchers that works exceedingly well so I don’t mind, I wanted the shredder for the wood chipping alone. I realize of course that this setup, composter + 2 machines to process yard waste is rather expensive at around $600, but you really can produce a lot of good compost with this setup and it’ll save you money in fertilizer.

I ordered a bunch of plants during the Winter months when I was craving some gardening action, and I realized that I lacked a place to put them. So I’m adding yet another bed (or really expanding one) by about probably 250 sq/ft in the front yard. So I got started laying out the outline of that, maybe this weekend I will start digging.

One thing I still need to do is get my vegetables started, I have the seeds but haven’t made any starts yet. I also need to prep the raised bed I plant them in.

I have a couple other things I’ve done but I want to make them separate blog posts so that is all for now.

5 Responses to “Spring Gardening Tasks”

  1. Virginia Blackwell  Says:

    The poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month…” How true! I expect you’ve lost a lot of plants and flowers this week, as have I in Illinois. 15 degrees this morning. The daffodils are lying flat on the ground. The forsythia blooms are frozen. Many of my perennials look like they won’t make it. Urrgh!

  2. Sanora  Says:

    Living in the northeast I too know the agonizing pain of seeing your plants go down the drain due to April weather! As crazy as it may sound it’s snowing right now! Just three weeks ago we thought spring had sprung,but now we see our plants tortured by the snow…
    Just keep up the hard work and the beauty will be worth it!

  3. stacy fox  Says:

    I’m hoping someone can help me. My beds and lawn are filled with some sort of seedling this year. The sprouts have two narrow, smooth oblong leaves and there are thousands of them. I live on a fairly wooded lot, but I’ve never had this happen. Can someone tell me what the heck they are?

  4. Administrator  Says:

    No… and I’ll tell you why. Seedlings often look alike, and there are hundreds of plants that produce seedlines like what you’ve described.

    However, if I had to guess, I’d say look up. Chances are with so many they are from a nearby tree.

  5. Patrick Bowling  Says:

    I think my compost heap would love for me to get a chipper. That would solve my carbon shortage in my compost heap. Seems I’m always digging around for cardboard or something when I run out of leaves. I never really liked breaking up sticks by hand so chipping seems like something I may look in to. I have some HoneySuckle plants that are tree sized and have lots of dead branches begging to give my compost heap a balanced carbon nitrogen ratio.

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