Spring! (Soon..?)

According to the calendar, Spring starts this month. While I’m sure it’s the case that true gardeners in Zone 4 have been planning their plots for months already, this little novice gardener has just set out in that direction.

The raised beds were dormant last year* – I had a bit going on as well as some uncertainty about permanence that precluded even maintenance that should have been done – so there is a fair amount of clean up that will need to be done yet this year before things are ready to plant. The four raised beds need to be thoroughly weeded/emptied and I’d also like to add more dirt to them. While the level of soil is deep enough, it is only just barely. So at some point, once the ground thaws, I’ll be tending to the clearing of the beds and ordering more soil. Like.. in a dump truck.

The front and side beds, fortunately, for the most part are self-maintaining. I will need to put down more mulch in the front this year, and be a little more vigilant about weeding out there. I also need to be more regular in watering the front planting boxes, and training whatever gets planted in them to vine up whatever mesh I install as that is the only way I’m going to get afternoon shade on the front porch. And I’m rather romantically attached to the idea of mint juleps in the shade on the front porch. *grin*

The side beds need to have the brush and deadfall from last year cleared out, but then are mostly good to go on their own with little interference from me. The rose bushes need to be trimmed back, at least the one on the side of the fence, but I’m nervous about doing that since the ones by the garage didn’t bloom last year after I was rather mercenary in trimming them the year before. Fortunately, I can pr’bly just trim those a little and still cut back the one by the fence rather a lot as it’s quite healthy and vigorous.

I’m taking advantage of my father’s winter planning to make some changes to the back yard. The small deck space, which is virtually unusable for any real purpose, will be extended so that it runs the width of the concrete patio, and the tall fencing will be replaced with something more friendly, at least on the side facing the rest of the patio and my yard. At the same time (or near to it), we’ll be building a pergola to cover most of the rest of the patio. The inside box will be 8×8, with I think an 18″ overhang beyond that on each side and my plan is to train vining plants (more on that later) up and across it to create filtered shade for that portion of the patio. There will be some of the middle that won’t be covered by the pergola or the deck, which is at the moment where I’m planning to put the grill, at least when it’s got stuff burning in it.

The bed by the patio needs rather desperately to be overhauled. I’ve never managed to get all the rock out of the soil, so it’s difficult to work with even in the best of times. It’s also a fairly heavy clay soil, which when combined with the rock is truly painful. I’m trying to figure out the best way to reclaim the bed that won’t require spending days on my hands and knees manually kneeding black soil into the clay and picking out the rocks by hand. But as I have Plans(tm) for that space (see above regarding vines), it will need to be done even if it’s grueling.

I’m also contemplating creation of a smaller bed running along the front edge of the patio. While I have a more or less bare spot at the back of the yard where the raspberries were under the mulberry tree, the back yard has a significant slope to it and that section tends to be very wet when we get a lot of rain. The raspberries never minded this, but I’d prefer to seed that section with grass and use some of the higher ground for another full-sun garden area. At the moment, I’m planning to put strawberries there, so it looks like I’ll be in need of a sodcutter as soon as the ground thaws in order to carve out some space.

I’ve put in an order for veggies and other plants already, but as this has gotten quite long already, I think I’ll save that for another post.

*Well, they weren’t intentionally planted at any rate. The jungle of tomatoes from two years ago re-seeded so I had another quite respectable, if entirely unplanned, tomato jungle in three of them, interspersed with a rather healthy variety of weeds.

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