Our weather continues warm and dry, as typical for mid-February in my region. So last Monday was the start of my pre-season inspections. That’s when it gets so nice out that I can’t resist the siren call any longer. I go and take a close look at everything in my yard, removing dead vegetation so this year’s growth can thrive. I see what’s made it through the cold and what hasn’t.
This will go slowly over a period of two or three weeks. There’s still no rush, after all. In the end I’ll have a long list of dreams and possibilities, gaps that have opened up and ideas to address nagging problems. Through my spring season of workshops, I’ll focus more, shorten the list, and make specific plans.
Finally, of course, comes the financial reckoning. I’ll have to decide what I really can afford to do and what will have to wait. For now, though, it’s all about the dreaming.
Inspection started in Beds 5 and 6, which face south and flank the front door. These are the show beds to let the locals know I am a good neighbor and keep my house nice. Almost all the compost I had spread at the end of September has incorporated into the soil. Only one or two larger clumps can be distinguished from the dirt. I was happy to see a great number of earthworm castings, indicating a healthy population. I crushed and scattered the remaining leaves before composting the stems. This should provide another helping of “worm chow” as the season warms up.
I did well this year, and almost all my perennials have new growth. Indian Blankets, Blue Flax, Penstemon, Yarrow and Columbines are looking good. There’s no sign of the two fancy coneflowers I purchased last fall, but it’s early yet. I also did a very controlled application of Round Up (like six squirts in all) to stop the non-native poppies from rearing their heads.
Bulbs are poking up and looking green. Daffodills and Paper White Narcissas, tulips, crocuses. The garlic in Bed 3 is about 4″ high already! I also started some spinach that will probably stay inside until we eat it.
Inside, I’ll do another inspection and decide which house plants need to be potted up. I don’t know about you, but when my plants look like the top is bigger than the bottom, that’s my cue to pot up. I’ve been favoring ceramic pots lately, so cats can’t knock them over when they jump to the windows. Also, some of my wildflower seedlings are ready for larger pots.
The bee house that was my winter craft project is now outside over Bed 6, replacing the smaller bee block I had before. I put together emergence chambers, which consist of mid-sized black plastic pots with large-ish drain holes. These are sitting on bricks to keep the insides dry. The paper tubes containing bee pupae are inside, with paper plates on top held down by rocks. When the new adults emerge, they can crawl out the holes and find a lovely selection of sunflower stems awaiting them.
Next order of business is to soak the bee block in bleach water, clear out all debris, install new paper tubes, and hang it over the second emergence chamber in Bed 4.