It's time to get back to thinking about the garden!
In Northern New England we have a 5th season. It's called Mud Season. We laugh about it a lot, but sometimes it's ANYTHING but funny!
What exactly IS Mud Season? Well, when the ground freezes in the winter, it is full of frozen water. As the temperatures begin to climb, and the sun becomes a bit warmer (usually in March, but sometimes this season can stretch into April) it begins to melt that frozen top layer of dirt. The ground that had soaked up all that water before it froze, now cannot drain because there is still a frozen layer of dirt below it. When cars go over these dirt roads, they quickly find themselves in deep ruts of soupy mire. The ruts get deeper with every passing car, and soon become a bath of mud. This is why New England cars are all the same color during Mud Season! Even if you wash your car every day, within an hour it will be "putty muddy" colored!
Our loggers really suffer at this time. Usually winter is when they do their logging and transporting of logs out of our forests on frozen roads. Just imagine having one of those big pieces of equipment hitting a road of mud. NOT a good thing!
This season also has implications for the garden. Gardeners have been itching to get outside. When the days warm up, they are spring loaded and dash right out into the garden. Resist that impulse!
That same phenomenon occurs in the garden that happens on the roads. Here if you step on that soft soil; ride a bike over it; dig in it; or heavens forbid, drive a car onto the lawn... You will pack that soil down into a hard clay mass. It's terrible for the roots below.
So, go to a flower show. Browse through some gardening catalogs. Clean your gardening tools. do anything, but stay out of the garden until that spongy top layer has turned hard. The old adage to remember is: if you can make a ball of the dirt, it's too early to plant! That soil should fall apart. When that happens, it's time to break out the shovels and trowels.