Featured Story

Gardening with Galligan: Before the thaw

CAROL GALLIGAN PHOTO Here’s what some of us are seeing. The daffodils belonging to Ram Island friends, in an open meadow and full sun.
Here’s what some of us are seeing. The daffodils belonging to Ram Island friends, in an open meadow and full sun.

And so, dear friends, we come together again, after a truly dreadful, record-breakingly dreadful, winter.

As religions around the world meet to celebrate their rites connected to the spring equinox, so we gardeners celebrate ours. We have fewer commandments, it is true. Only five: Feed. Water. Weed. Spray.

And sow. But as I write this, six days before publication, many of my beds are still snow-covered, especially those that border fences where the snow seems deeper than everywhere else. How does one feed a snow-covered bed! But the forecast for the week speaks of temperatures in the 50s, so perhaps it’s only a matter of days before we can go ahead with the first spring fertilizing. What a nice chore that will be!

But if we can’t yet work outside, what can we do? Let’s begin by a close survey of our indoor work space. Is it neat? Mine isn’t. In fact, it’s a jumble of stuff, actually a winter’s worth, that needs to be cleared away.

Time for a garbage bag.

Moving right along, are our major tools clean? If we put them away properly, of course they are. But how many of us put them away properly? I didn’t. I was just so glad to see the season end. They’re leaning against the wall of the garage, where I left them in a state of semi-exhaustion.

So if yours are, too, bring them up to the kitchen sink and give them a good scouring, ready for the season.

And buy one thing new. Whether it’s big like a wheelbarrow, or small like a hand trowel, there’s really something hugely cheering about “newness,” at least I think so.

Is there something you’re lacking? Would this be a good time to go online and see what you can find there? I really need a good sprayer. In the past I have always chosen one that in the end I didn’t like. The ones you need to pump by hand are eventually exhausting in the heat of mid-July, but the electric ones tend to be heavy.

I sound like Baby Bear and indeed, I would like to find one that was “juuust right.”  I’m not terribly hopeful but it would be worth a morning’s trip around Google. Maybe this week. I actually found an electric blower that transformed my fall, so I should be a bit more optimistic.

Lastly, how about seeds? I bought some a few weeks ago in a wild moment of optimism but managed to remind myself of how badly I feel when those morning glories, sown too early, droop unhappily as the nighttime temperatures remain too low for them to venture out.

But it’s probably okay to start now, especially with some of the hardier annuals. I also have some perennial seeds in the refrigerator and since they take longer to germinate, maybe I could start there.

Hopefully, there are some new gardeners reading this, full of optimism and dreams of bloom. Be in touch and perhaps the next column will be just for you — a review of what you must own if you plan on going ahead with gardening.

In the meantime, stay warm, make sure the ice is gone before you start work and remember everything they told us about patience being a virtue and so on. This may be the spring when that’s what we need to remember.