Into the Garden, Spring 2014

Selfie with my trusty John Deere Gator

Selfie with my trusty John Deere Gator

Our cold Midwest spring is offering mid-50-degree days. I braved the chill on April Fools’ Day to go outside and begin picking up sticks and mulching the garden beds. But first, I gave the Gator a bath. A layer of fine dust covered my little garden vehicle, the consequences of wintering in the garage. Knowing I have this handy tool makes hard work in the garden so much easier.

The pine, fir, rose hip branches and holly that filled my planters on the front porch and barn entrance were taken out and used as mulch behind the peony bushes. These bushes are about a foot from the back fence. A heavy layer of mulch keeps weeds in check. Instead of buying a lot of wood chips, I use what I have to save money in the garden. Mulch keeps my weeding at a bare minimum.

Our one remaining River Birch in the front yard is a messy tree but I love using the reddish branches in arrangements and to make birch twig wreaths. Now is an ideal time to cut tender branches as they are filled with interesting flower buds that add a lot of character to the wreaths. In spring, however, the ground is littered with dry broken branches. Instead of burning them, I break them up in smaller pieces and use them as mulch in the container bed. They will eventually break down and add to the richness of the soil while keeping down weeds. That’s the kind of repurposing I love–handy and free.

Lawn just beginning to "green up"

Lawn just beginning to “green up”

For the next two days, chilly spring rain is in the forecast. The blush of green in the grass will quickly turn into an emerald carpet almost overnight. The dormant garden beds in the background are ready to be turned and amended with compost for spring planting. AND SO IT BEGINS…

About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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