Grubbing Around in the Garden & Looking for Spring

One day every body is complaining about snow and winter, then, the minute the temp sores to 50 degrees, suddenly it’s spring and all is forgiven.  

At least that’s how it was this past Sunday.  And Monday. And even Tuesday.

There wasn’t a speck of green to be seen on Sunday. The rain, wind, sun took their turns throughout the day, and the warmth was pretty fragile. But it was enough to pull people outside and make them feel giddy. I closed my lap-to,  pulled on my gardening gloves and grabbed a rake.  I was so tired of those brown leaves and besides, I was dying to see what was going on beneath them.  Here’s what I saw. Maybe not so thrilling to most people, but let me interpret these tangles among the dead leaves.  There are a few nibs of chives poking out of the withered strands that froze months ago Here are the first sorrel leaves to appear. The leaves of the thyme are looking fleshy here, instead of merely dried. And I didn’t even take a picture of the first red shoots of the lovage plant because they really were pretty small. Barely visible to the uninterested eye. This may not look like salad to you. But in a few weeks there will be a garden salad that will include, along with the lettuce, spinach and arugula still under safe cover of remay, maybe one snipped chive blade, few torn sorrel leaves, probably not the thyme, but perhaps a tender lovage leaf. There will be more snows and freezing nights for weeks to come, but this tiny bouquet will be enough to launch both spring and summer. This is the wild joy that the garden promises.  Even though I’m heartily tired of brown, I rather love this time of year because each day there’s something new poking up and leafing out, usually plants I’ve forgotten about. I stare at some leaves and remember, oh, the agastache!  The daffodils. The wild strawberries. Little signs of life appearing each day, taking hold. It’s like seeing old friends, whether birds as they first return from their travels, or human ones. What I’m wondering, though, would these tender shoots and leaves be happier with their blanket of leaves left to cover them a little while longer. Or can I take them off? Tell me if you have an answer to this because I really want to know. I suspect the leaves should stay, but I’m really eager to see them go.  Many thanks to all who try to set the story straight.

2 comments to Grubbing Around in the Garden & Looking for Spring

  • I don’t have a professional gardener answer, but I do know that caterpillars (in various stages depending on the species) overwinter in leaves on the ground. I’m not sure if they have become butterflies where you are yet, but it can’t hurt to leave the leaves on the ground a little longer until the threat of frost has passed….Maybe this forum will help you decide. http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/butterflies-moths/5218-how-do-butterflies-survive-winter.html

    I started my seeds already and will put them in the ground and in pots soon – I live on Oahu for now, so no frost warnings! In My Kitchen has shipped and is on its way here. Congrats on the new book and good luck in your garden, they bring so much joy.

  • I leave the “blankets ” on until we’ve reached our area’so last average freeze date. In the South, old-school gardeners wait until our Pecan trees have begun to bud out..

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