Spring Pruning

Spring PruningIt was sunny, but cool and windy this past weekend. But the pruning bug had gotten me and I attacked a Sage, 2 Lavender, a Lemon Balm and a Hydrangea on Saturday.

I tried to use a manual hedge clipper for everything, but the Sage and Lavender were too woody. I have not given either of them a good clip in a long time. I had to use a hand clipper for those. But I was able to use the hedge clipper on the Lemon Balm. It all feels much brighter and more open. Ah, Spring is on the Way!

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The patch of green in the middle of the picture are my chives making their annual appearance. The first bit of green on a hillside of fuzzy brown.

It didn’t occur to me until afterward to check if this was actually a good time of year to prune these plants. I found this on the About.com site and breathed a little more freely:

When is the Best Time to Prune Woody Herbs 

Pruning, other than the pinching down you do when you harvest your herbs, is best done in the early spring, once new growth starts at the base of the plant. A second pruning can be done after flowering. Don’t prune late in the season. You don’t want to encourage new growth when the plant is trying to go into winter dormancy.  http://gardening.about.com/od/herbsspecificplants1/qt/Pruning_Herbs.htm

Being that I did pass the Master Gardener Course, I ought to know this.

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But when I saw this little blurb in the online Farmer’s Almanac:

5th-6th Excellent Time To Kill Weeds, Briars, Poison Ivy, And Other Plant Pests.

and I didn’t have any Plant Pests to get rid of, I thought Pruning was the next best thing and jumped right to it!

Compost Happens

It’s easy to make the “black gold” of compost in or for your garden. I use two methods – a compost bin and direct “in garden” composting.

First, the in-garden method. I first began my garden 10 years ago by covering a portion of our lawn (that I had scoped out as the sunniest spot in the back yard) with chunks of hay bales  purchased from a local farm. It’s fine if this hay is wet and rotting because that’s pretty much what you want it to do. We do need a fence around the garden because of the deer and other critters, but we started with hay on the grass.

In the Spring, the grass under the hay was rotted and the ground was soft, enabling me to plant without having to till. After the garden is started, any kitchen scraps can be dug into the ground just a little bit and covered with a layer of hay. Keep adding hay as it decomposes and sinks into the earth. I usually replenish my hay twice a year (Spring and Fall). This keeps the soil “fed” year round without any turning, shoveling or moving of the compost that is naturally created right there where you need it.

However there are some parts of my garden (like the flower beds) that I don’t want covered with rotting hay (which oddly enough is a lovely sight to me, but most people don’t find it so pleasing!) In those areas I would like to be able to add compost to the soil under the mulch or even right up around the plants. For this I need compost that I can dig into, shovel and move around.

The bin method is nearly as easy as the in-garden method. I am a lazy gardener. There are many “How to” articles out and about with information about the proportions of different materials for your compost and the exact measurements and arrangement of each. I am sure this makes a fast and excellent compost. However, throwing all your kitchen scraps (except meat and dairy) into the compost bin, as well as your weeds, leaves, some grass clippings, etc. you will get a beautiful compost in the end too. Without measuring, layering, or in my case, even turning. Although after I used the first batch this year I did ask my dear husband to turn it for me.

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Spring in Connecticut

P1000065Spring came very slowly to Southwestern Connecticut this year. Winter was brutal, with snow storm after snow storm dumping sometimes more than a foot of snow at once. When it melted and we got early spring rains, we had flooding and even more trouble. The temperatures were slow to come up and it was cold and raw for days and days.

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