Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I'm so sad. As I look out in the yard, as the snow begins to melt, my old compost bin is peeking up out of the snow.
I made this compost bin myself the year I became a Master Gardener. That would have been 1988, so it's a few years old. At the time, we lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and I made the compost bin lovingly from cedar boards, using screws, rather than nails. I knew we'd be moving to NH, and I wanted to be able to take it along.
While in CT, it generated lots of good compost for me. Then when we did move north, I unscrewed it and re-screwed it back together again in North Haverhill.
It has generated SO much "Black Gold" in the time I've used it. I'd be willing to bet that EVERY plant I put in the ground either had that compost in with it's roots, or scratched into the surface of the soil around it.
So, it is with sadness I look at it now. The sides are leaning. The slats are finally rotting. The screws are slipping from their anchors. It looks a bit like I feel. I've reached that point in my gardening career when I need someone else to do the work, while I enjoy the plants that continue year after year.
About 5 or 6 years ago I made the decision to plant only perennials. That was a good decision. The perennials are doing pretty well. The compost which the bin generated, and I added to the plants over the years, has paid off.
So, goodbye compost bin. Thank you for all you did to help make an affordable and healthy garden. Thank you for accepting all the kitchen scraps that didn't need to be added to the trash. Thank you for looking (and being) rustic and utilitarian. Thank you for making me a true gardener. I will mourn your passing.

Thursday, March 03, 2011



Be sure to fertilize that poinsettia.

Check your stored bulbs to be sure they're not being eaten by

Also, remove forced bulbs from cold storage. Put them in a cool place until they begin to sprout, then bring them into the place you want to have them bloom.

This is a good time to buy summer blooming bulbs.

Start seeds inside.

Begonias can be started in peat moss.

If you haven't done so yet, start planning a new garden!

This is a good time to send in a soil sample for testing...if you can get to it!

If you have a lawn, this is a good time to send the mower in for
a tune-up.

Fruit trees should be pruned of dead and diseased branches. Check
a reference book and give them a general pruning as well.

It is time for Dormant Pruning. This is the process whereby you prune the trees while they are in a dormant (non-growing) state.

Keep your pruning shears away from spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to
snip a few for inside forcing!
(Although you should certainly remove dead and diseased branches.) Some good forcing candidates are: cherry, apple, dogwood and forsythia. Just remember that whatever you cut off now will not be blooming in a few months!

Cut back woody perennials like artemesia, lavender and russian sage to about 6 inches from the ground.

Talk about pruning shears...sharpen them before using.

If any of your plants are frost-heaved, gently push them back into the ground.