Signs of Spring 3-13-06

March 13, 2006

I’ve been noticing more and more clues that indicate spring is quickly arriving to my Central Pennsylvania, Zone 6 vegetable garden.

Of course it will be another six to eight weeks before I feel comfortable about planting any cold sensitive crops in the open garden. But the vegetable growing season has started and here are a few signs of spring that I recently noticed while out in the garden:

Garlic Plants Springing Up

Sure there was a small amount of leaf growth in the garlic bed last fall, but now the garlic is really beginning to send up vigorous leaf growth. That’s the whole idea behind planting garlic in the fall; the plants develop strong root systems during the fall and the plants are able to really take off at the first hint of spring.

If you covered the garlic bed over the winter make sure that the leaves can penetrate the mulch, otherwise pull some of the mulch back to allow the garlic to grow.

Perennial Herbs Make an Appearance

Another sign of spring are the chive plants that have also started sending up clumps of spiky green leaf growth. Chives are usually the first perennial herb to make an appearance in my herb garden.

If there are leaves, garden debris, and stems from last seasons herb plants lying around, now’s a good time to clear out the herb bed and toss the organic matter onto the compost pile. While you’re at it cut down those old asparagus ferns and dried ornamental grasses that are still standing.

Sunny, Warm Days (Sometimes!)

An obvious sign of the changing seasons can felt in the warmer temperatures that we’ve been enjoying for the past few days. Today’s high temperature was seventy-eight degrees with tonight’s low expected to remain in the fifties.

The ten-day forecast delivers a taste of reality with much colder temperatures expected to arrive by mid-week. Highs barely making it into the forties, and lows around twenty-six degrees with a good chance for snow are predicted to greet us by Wednesday.

Hopefully it will be a brief encounter and temperatures are supposed rise into the fifties by next week, with lows staying around thirty-six degrees.

Budding Trees and Berries

I’ve noticed the buds swelling on many of the trees and the blueberries. This is often a source of concern for area fruit tree growers who worry about their fruit trees pushing out and flowering too early, only to be hit be severe late season frosts.

The forsythia shrubs are also budding and poised to light up the landscape with their colorful yellow blossoms.

Groundhog Days

Then there’s the arrival of Groundhog Day. I know it’s been weeks since the day he supposedly saw his shadow, but this time I’m the one who’s seen the groundhog’s shadow as they’ve ended their hibernation and begun scouting out gardens to forage.

On a more pleasant note I’m still anticipating the first sighting of a robin hopping about the garden looking for worms which is always a joyful indication that spring, and new gardening season has definitely arrived.

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  • dirtgirl

    When you say “cut down” ornamental grasses, do you mean cut them back so the leaves are stubby but still there? or basically just eliminate them completely?

    I just moved into a house during the winter and have NEVER had a yard or outdoor space in my life. There are some dried-up clumps of grasses out there and I don’t know enough (yet) to know whether they will come back or should be dug up and replaced. So your mention of cutting them back got my attention.

    I’m in Central Ohio so I imagine our weather is pretty similar. I woke up to frost/snow outside after our 70-plus degree weather yesterday. That was a sad little reality check that spring isn’t quite here yet.

    thanks for the great site!

  • Kenny Point

    I was suggesting to remove the dead and dried leaves from last summers growth. Just cut them down to within a couple inches of the ground. Don’t dig them up, ornamental grasses are perennials and will regrow again this year. The weather did change here also, now it’s windy and COLD!

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