What a delight to be able to write "late winter"! Only 5 more weeks of an interminable season. We were teased with a couple of warm days this past week, and it made me itch to get out and garden. What's that you say? There's nothing to do this early?
Au contraire, my gardening friend. Start with yard and garden clean-up. If your ground isn't too soggy, make a circuit and pick up large sticks and twigs. Put them in the brush pile. (you DO have a brush pile, don't you? They provide essential shelter for a variety of amphibians, mammals and birds in our fragmented forest.)
It's also time to start removing the wadded-up leaves that have settled onto paths in your garden, or which have blown up against the house. Let the ones stay that are nestled in the shrubbery or among the perennials. Unless they're smothering the crowns of your plants, they can remain as free mulch. If they are hiding the perennials, wait a month until spring has indeed sprung, then remove.
As you gather up those soggy leaves, deposit them in the compost pile. They're full of nutrients and moisture and will help to super start the composting action in just a few weeks.
Stepping into the garden and doing just a few chores accomplishes several things. It gets you out in the fresh air; it lessens the workload which will be upon us next month; and even fifteen minutes of labor helps satisfy that winter-dormant urge to garden. And then there's the possibility of finding the first flower of the season, just as I did last week. There it was, a single johnny-jump-up, snugged in among the miscanthus and pennestium in the grass garden.
And a welcome sight she was!