As winter is leaving and the days begin to get just a little bit longer, the constant Gardner is already experiencing a heightened anticipation of the coming of spring. And like preparing to go back to school, much of the excitement fizzles after the first two weeks of being thrust back into the actual hard work of it all, just as it can be with gardening. The studious Gardner, however, is already mapping out that new flower bed on the side of the house with a tape measure and using modern tools to his advantage by using sites like sunearthtools.com and findmyshadow.com to chart the sun’s path rather than creating a sundial to chart the sun’s path for the next year and severely limiting the chance that come August, that favored cluster of Hostas’ is getting eight hours of direct sunlight.
Prepping the soil is the foundation to a successful season. Oftentimes, in anticipation of a late frost, it’s okay to just wait to prep beds by simply leaving them covered with a thin layer of newspaper and cardboard topped with black plastic to trap heat and increase the bacteria levels in the soil. When it comes time to plant, simply clean of the plastic and store it away for next year. Place the cardboard into the composting bin and till all remaining newspaper into the soil for increased aeration. This is but one of many techniques that can be learned on garden.com while we wait for winter to end.
Selecting the plants that you want to see come fall. Of all the things a farmer must plan for, what they are going to grow for that season is the most important. The same can be said for the hobby Gardner. As with all hobbyists, your passion grows with your ability to grow your hobby. And season after season, the most reliable way to increase the plants best suited for your garden is to single out the genetics of your healthiest plants (those that you may want to see twenty of one day). So once again, the key is to plan ahead by getting a few of those expensive specimens that you may have been eyeing at the nursery, nurturing and feeding them for a few months and then taking numerous cuttings from the biggest and healthiest of them to clone those desired traits.
Employ the principles of French cuisine through ‘Mise en place’, essentially to have everything in place, as well as the permaculture principle that if you prepare everything properly and do 90% of the hard work in the beginning, then the remaining 10%, which is general maintenance, becomes a breeze. Happy gardening!