Chilly April winds have done a great job of drying out the garden patch. We’ve piled lots of pigeon poop on each bed, and will soon add more nutrients to the remainder of the beds as well as to the main garden.

The asparagus are not up yet, but I expect them to be making an appearance by the end of the week. The crocuses have already gone by, but the daffodils are at their peak. Tender green leaves for future day lilies are showing up on the western and northern sides of the house. Azalea buds are still bound tightly, as are the lilac buds.

Nearly everything is preparing for another season, but not quite yet.

The garlic plants, however, are about six inches high and are kept warm by a thick layer of hay. I dug up the parsnips and we enjoyed the sweet, wintered-over flavors. Wish I had planted more, and will do so this fall.

Right now, at the beginning of May, nearly everything is on hold, but preparing to spring forth in a mighty surge.

The tomato seeds I planted in March have turned into four-inch plants under grow lights, and the parsley I’ve been growing all winter is lush and ready to sprinkle on soups and stews. Some of the parsley plants will be planted in the main garden, where they will become huge, nutrient-filled plants.

Late April and early May are times to think more about what and where everything will be planted. I’ve decided this year to reduce the size of my garden, but then, once I start planting, those sensible plans may change. I’m always thinking I want to try this or try that, and before I know it, I’ve planted far more than I had originally planned.

Ah, spring. Both intentional and accidental plants are ready to burst. It seems that all plant life has been on hold long enough — now it’s time to show what’s going to happen.

Now is also the time to plant those hearty pansies. I have several flats waiting for me to bury the roots in soil. Of all the flowers that we can plant, pansies are the most reliable and hearty. On Christmas day a few years ago, a cluster of purple pansies broke through the snow to show off their beauty. Quite amazing.

Soon, fiddlehead-lovers will be spotted on the sides of streams gathering these wild ferns, and tender, green dandelions will soon be ready to dig from our lawns.

My rhubarb is up and forming balls, assuring me that we will have plenty for jam and pies.

Spring: the time everything comes alive once again. Despite the many seasons I have seen come and go, I consider all this spring growth quite miraculous.

Meanwhile, now is the time to prepare the garden spot and to make sure our gardening tools are ready for another season.

Some suggestions:

* Inventory your seed packets, then order or purchase those that are needed or wanted. Seeds are usually good for at least two years so never throw any away, just plant thicker.

* Inventory your garden tools. Do they need cleaning? Are there one or two tools that would make gardening easier this year and should be purchased?

* Consider establishing a separate garden patch to grow winter squash, which can sometimes send out very long vines.

* Line up someone to rototill your garden spot. Add raised beds, if desired. Identify a place to buy hay for mulching.

* Decide how much time you will have to care for your garden, then determine its size. Also, decide whether you want to grow enough to preserve for the fall and winter months, or just enough to enjoy as each vegetable is ready.

* Chat with other gardeners to learn what they planted last year and how successful they were.

* Clear out leaves and other debris from the flower beds. Start planting pansies now.

* Try something new.

* Plant a row of vegetables to give to the local food pantry.

* Peas can be planted now as they can withstand colder temperatures. Also, if planted now, chances are you will have fresh peas to enjoy with fish on the Fourth of July, a Maine tradition. Don’t forget to provide supports of wire or mesh for the pea plants as they grow.

* Plant summer flowering bulbs.

* Set up a compost pile.

* And best of all: Dream about all the goodness and healthy food that will come from your very own garden spot. It doesn’t have to be large. It can be a simple kitchen garden where you can pick fresh greens for an evening salad.

Be mindful that every gardening season includes something that may go wrong. So, for instance, be prepared to treat tomato plants with pesticide or fungicide, as needed, and invest in a Japanese beetle trap. They work wonders. And be ready for too much rain, which causes plants to mold, or too little rain, which means you’ll have to water them

Every year is different, but every year yields at least some vegetables and flowers.

Keep hopeful and retain a sense of wonder. Although I have been gardening for many years, I am always amazed at what the magical earth can do.

Eileen M. Adams has been gardening for decades. She still considers it a miracle that tiny seeds can grow into delicious, healthy food. She may be reached at [email protected]


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