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Gardening with Galligan: Spring has sprung!

And so, my fellow Islanders, we find ourselves together once again, in another spring and another year. And although it’s still quite cold, there’s warmth in the sun and the daffodils are indeed up at least six or seven inches as I write, some of the early ones even more. And I did see a robin.

This first column I always want to give to “newbies,” who may for the first time be setting out on that path the rest of us have been following for these many, many years. So here’s my first piece of advice: You must and that’s must, have a “garden book.” You can spend anywhere up to around $60 for a beautiful one and I’ve looked at them online and some are indeed quite lovely.

Alternatively you can go to the IGA, back around the area where the butter section is, turn around and look down at those black-and-white composition books. Choosing one of them saves a good deal of money that you can then spend on seeds. Or plants. The important thing is that you write in it. What, you may be asking. The answer is “anything and everything.”

First you write “Spring – 2019.” Then put down what your plans are, what beds do you hope to fill with what? And why have you chosen those particular plants?  If you don’t have answers to those questions then your task is clear, namely to browse until you do. Have you sent for catalogs? This is the best way to get started.

Call and get yourself on the right mailing lists. One of the very best is White Flower Farm, Box 50, Litchfield, Connecticut 06759, (800) 503-9624, easily only a day trip from here and well worth it. Two others are John Scheepers, 23 Tulip Drive, Box 638, Bantam, Connecticut, 06750, (860) 567-0838 and Gilbert H. Wild and Son, 2944 State Highway 37, Reeds, Missouri 64859, (888) 449-4537. Once you’re on these mailing lists, other places will find you and over time you’ll discover which of these sources you like and which not. And you’ll have made a note of that, where? Yes! In your garden book! Now you’ve got it!

Next? Get familiar with what our local library has to offer, which actually is quite a lot. They have an excellent garden section. Learn who some of the earliest gardeners were and why they’re famous. Read one of my favorites, Ruth Stout (yes, Rex was her brother) and her plans for avoiding certain onerous tasks. Now, you’re on your way!

Don’t be daunted! Gardening is often a system of learning by failing. I remember well when I began, the first chapter in all the books I bought was “soil.” Or some variant thereof. I skipped over those chapters, I didn’t want to read about dirt, I wanted flowers and blooms. Wrong. First mistake. I finally learned there was nothing more important than soil and how to make it better.

Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening. And to the non-newbies, (I hesitate to call you “oldies”) good to be with you once again, looking forward to another summer and some new adventures. We’ll have fun!