Friday, March 26, 2010

Signs of Spring in my Garden - at Last!

Spring takes on many faces in my Ohio garden.  This is my favorite.  Meet my grandson, Luke.  He's twelve, and several years ago we shopped for these crocus bulbs.  The perennial, lambs ear will come alive soon, as the seasons progress.  That face warms me more than any sunny day!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the grandkids (Luke and twin sister Mollee) are on board to help me do some spring clean-up.  But as you can see, I won't be doing the clean-up today. We got 2" of snow over night, and though its pretty,  I am ready to have winter OVER. 

This is what my garden looked like a couple of days ago.  I'll just have to be willing to wait a little longer.

The early signs of spring come in several great bursts of color.  Here the crocus gives a splash of violet.  I  have yellow ones too that really give a punch! I also enjoy  the primrose path I have just off the patio.  I moved the primrose closer to the house so I could see them.  Initially they were way out back, and I rarely saw them.  That soggy trek was the inspiration for my 'muddy boots' picture in an earlier post. 

I've been contributing to the composter all winter.  I'm waiting for some warm sunshine to start it cooking again.  But the bottom door is hiding some really good stuff  from last year that I'll be using soon.  I have some folks I respect in the composting arena that tell me that egg shells may spread samonilla in the compost.  She recommends microwaving the shells for three minutes before tossing them into the compost.  Sounds reasonable, and I'd rather be safe.

As you can see, I've got an old onion growing in my composter, and the coffee grounds and filters are added daily. Paper towel and toilet paper  rollers, as well as potato skins, celery scraps, carrot peeling, and apple cores all find a new home in my compost pile. If you don't have a compost pile yet, consider starting one.  The microorganisms and great nutrition are free for the asking, and free is always a good thing!

The snow is covering the daffodils today, but as they bloom in the next week or so, consider sprinkeling an organic fertilizer around the base of each.  The bulbs will be gathering energy for next years' blooms as the greens fade, so do not cut off the tops before they turn brown. The extra feed and the natural gathering of nutrition will ensure another great show next year.

What spring has to offer us is priceless - hope, renewal, and satisfaction that we have a hand (albeit, dirty) in this wonderful process. 
Share what Spring means to you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Landscape Like the Forest Does

 I've been taking this early spring down time to plan for this year's garden. As I cleaned up fallen leaves, I noticed perennials that need to be cut back. Then I thought of the woods and forests.  Who cleans all that debris up?

What if we plan our gardens the way nature does?  Ground covers bloom early when they get the sun before trees leaf out.  Understory shrubs flower in the dappled shade of spring, and vines grow up through the tree canopy to reach the sun.  These patterns of nature are easy to mimic. 

When we design our landscape to  follow natures example, the ecosystem will thrive.  There is little or no stress on plants.  The hormony is high. Each species has specific needs for light, nutrition, and water. When we consider these needs, and plant accordingly, we maximize the natural expression of that plant to survive and reproduce.

Nature is the ultimate recycler.  Everything goes round and round; nothing is wasted.  Everything is a resource. In The Edible Forest Garden by Bill Mollison and David Helmgren, coined the word 'permaculture'.  This idea focuses on the 'permanant' relationship we have with nature.    The spring bulbs need the sun, so early spring before tree canopies erupt is when they perform best. Beneath a copse of trees, the sun will not penetrate to the ground later in the season.  The flowering fruit tree needs to produce blossoms for pollunators to find, to produce fruit. Year after year, this pattern repeats itself. 

Designing a new landscape, or tweeking an existing yard can be daunting.  Just remember the light, water, and nutritional needs of the plants. Group like plants together.  Dry shade plants won't thrive in a sunny moist place.  And plants that need full sun (at least 6 hours a day) will not meet their potential if planted in a shady corner. Put the right plant in the right place. 

Design, plan, and copy nature.  You'll get a lovely yard with minimum aggrevation on your part.  Don't try to force nature to do what you want.  Be creative, sure, but let's respond to gardening knowing we are part of the Earth, not apart from it.