Wednesday, April 19, 2006


You’ve heard the expression to “check the fences”. It’s what farmer does before he let’s his livestock out in the field. For a rancher, it’s an on-going process to be sure his herd doesn’t go wandering where they shouldn’t be.
For a gardener however, it’s what we should be doing RIGHT NOW! We don’t want our gardens to “get away from us”. You need to be an intimate partner with everything that grows on your place. You need to know what’s suffering from some kind of disease, if it’s in too much sun, if it get’s more wind than necessary, etc. If you can correct those maladies, you need to do that. But just like you visit your Doctor annually for a check-up to be sure that little stuff is caught before it becomes an issue, your plants need that kind of help as well. Since they don’t live as long as you do, their check-ups should be more frequent. Hence…checking the fences, or in our cases, the garden!
So, when the weather is nice and you have a block of time to just enjoy the great out of doors, grab your pruners and go for a walk along your garden paths. Start at one end and go all the way around if you have the time. If your time is more limited, or if the garden is too large, start in one direction today, and then the next time, go the other direction so everything gets a “check-up”.
As you walk, look for broken, dead, or diseased branches. Cut them off down to the next healthy bud. Try to have that bud facing AWAY from the center of the shrub. That way when it starts to grow, it will grow OUT. The more breezes you have through the center of a bush or tree, the less likely there will be mold or fungus growth. Any plant likes to have breezes blow through its branches. Just like you love the feel of a breeze blowing your hair. It’s exhilarating for us…why not the plant?
The other thing you should be looking for is plants that have not made it through the winter…some of these will be annuals that didn’t get plucked out last fall. Pull them out now. It will make your job easier when you start cleaning out the beds, if you haven’t already begun that process. Up here in the North Country, I put that off to be sure everything survives any late frosts.
Any of this stuff that is NOT diseased can go right in the compost bin or pile. I even put branches in, as long as they’re not TOO big. I figure that’s a way to keep the pile aerated.
That should do it for now. Later in the season you’ll probably be looking for other things, but right now…it will get you out in the garden and reconnected with your friends out there. Happy Gardening!


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