Garden Tips and Farm News

I believe we are closing in on Spring even though I'm looking at a semi- white, somewhat icy landscape on this 31st day of March. I have been  cleaning up my gardens of all the branches and things like that. I've been cutting back perennials that I left standing for winter seed-head interest too. My elevation here in Greenfield puts me almost 2 weeks behind you lowlanders. My Hellebores are just coming up along with the daffodils.
Last year we had that early burst of summer weather in March. Not this year. I'm being a bit cautious about uncovering my hostas and may just let them push thru the leaves in their own good time this year. Last year they came up so early that many got zapped by the frosts in April. I would wait to cut back ornamental grasses till you see active growth, as hollow stems can collect water or snow and rot the plants. That's another reason I don't cut them in Fall. Besides, they are beautiful winter interest with their frosty plumes glistening in the sun.
As soon as the soil is thawed you can start planting trees and shrubs. See my list of Exotic Conifers and other trees and shrubs for ideas. It is also a good time to divide perennials, hosta and daylilies as they get to be a few inches high. Trim about 1/4 to 1/3 off the roots and use a sharp knife or other implement of destruction to divide the clumps. 

If you are starting a new bed, be sure to add a bit of triple phosphate to the top couple of inches to encourage root growth in the new plants you put in. Of course, some compost in the bed is good. I also recommend a composting mulch like Ideal Compost makes in Peterborough, NH.  I'm not a big fan of deep digging a reasonable soil. Solid clay may need some amendments and some working to make it plantable. The less you disturb the structure of the soil, the better, unless it is totally unworkable.
Plant those seeds for annuals and perennials if you have a warm, sunny window or greenhouse. I'm going to try growing a highly nutritious, fast growing tree from seed this year called Moringa. It isn't winter hardy here, but it grows very fast and you can eat the leaves, roots, seeds and fruit which it produces in one growing season. Look it up online to learn more.
I'm also going to start a small raised bed for greens in my cold greenhouse to extend my veggie season a bit. I'll let you know how that goes as it goes... Only will need 8in or so of compost and should be able to plant quite a bit in a 4X6ft area. I'll post a pic as soon as I remember how to do that on this website! I can almost taste those tender little arugulas and lettuces!
I had a lot of porcupine damage in my apple and cherry (think it's a gonner) trees this winter. Got to trim out the damaged branches and spray with a horicultural oil before the little buds get bigger. Lost our bees again this winter. They made it thru last winter, so I was hoping for the best. At least they left some honey on the frames, so I'm melting it thru a colander over a warm, not hot, gas heater. It will be the first honey we get after 4 years of beekeeping! We'll get more, though. I just love those little 'buzzys'!
Good luck with all your Spring projects! You can always email me if you have questions or problems. I might be able to help or at least refer you to someone who can.
Your gardening friend, Maggie Sauvain : or 603 547-3395