Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Preparing for Spring – January Heat Wave

 This is the time of year most gardeners begin to browse seed catalogs and dream of warmer days ahead. Typically, January is the month that winter really settles in and delivers its coldest, nastiest weather. However, this past weekend was anything but. Temperatures reaching into the mid-70s provided all the motivation I needed to get outside in the garden.

My garden to-do list is always long and one quick look around the yard confirmed that. Regardless, I decided to focus my attention on the spring vegetable garden. While planting is still a ways away, there are things that can be done now to get the soil conditioned for the spring planting season. This is the time to put all those shredded leaves I’ve collected this fall to good use. Leaves are packed with trace minerals and when added to the garden, leaves feed earthworms and beneficial microbes. They lighten heavy soils and help sandy soils retain moisture. And best of all, they’re free!

Leaves, garden

Once piled on the garden, I lightly work them into the soil. This will help them break-down even faster.

Leaves, garden

In addition to adding organic matter to the soil, turning the soil this time of year helps to keep winter weeds from becoming established and unearths burrowing pest that will hopefully be lapped up by the birds.

And speaking of birds – be sure to keep those feeders cleaned and stocked with fresh birdseed. Birds are more dependent on seed this time of year and can really benefit from our feeders, not to mention the satisfaction that we get from watching them!

Carolina chickadee, Suet bird feeder

Carolina chickadee