Birch catkins, crocuses, budding lilacs and myriad other spring showings are all around our house right now.

It’s definitely spring. And if the plant world did not tell me, my goose flock surely would. They are so busy trying to make this year’s flock of goslings.

Spring is truly busting out all over. Green shoots are poking through the soil in the garlic bed. Swollen apple branches are about to present their sweet-smelling pink blossoms and the grass has already started to grow in the garden, long before the seeds are actually planted.

With still-cool days, now’s the time to get outside and experience all that the magical earth can offer.

Although autumn remains my favorite season because of its pure, cool, fresh air, spring is a very close second.

Autumn is the time to harvest all that the earth has provided. Spring is the time to plant and begin watching what is to come.

The summer birds are beginning to reappear, as are the summer insects.

The bird-feeder has been filled with over-staying juncos and the always-entertaining chickadees. But now, they are being joined by goldfinches and sparrows and an occasional robin.

Woodpeckers are busy drilling holes in old, nearly dead trees to make way for their nests and their eventual families. Last year, a pair of robins built a nest on the soffit adjacent to the eaves of the main part of the house, and successfully raised a family.

With all this spring springing up around us, we garden lovers know that before any real planting can begin, we must be sure last year’s garden debris is cleaned up — if we didn’t do it all last fall. Not only is this necessary for successful planting, but also removing debris can reduce the chance of disease in the soil.

This is the time to add compost, calcium, if needed, and any fertilizing agent. Till it in soon after it is sprinkled on the garden beds or rows.

There’s still time to order seeds, but now is the time to buy seed potatoes. Vegetable seeds may be found in many stores, and contrary to popular belief, even cheap seeds have worked well for me. It’s also the time to plant those first crops of lettuce, spinach, other greens and radishes.

Peas, too, should soon be planted so they will be ready as part of the traditional July 4th barbecue celebration. From now until October, those of us who feed our souls as well as our bodies with vegetables grown in our own gardens we will be busy.

For those who grow flower gardens, now is also the time to plant autumn-blooming bulbs, as well as to plot out a space for annuals. Among the most successful annuals I have found are bachelor buttons, asters, zinnias and marigolds, all very traditional flowers. I hope to add another flowering annual this year, as well, but I’m not sure which one yet.

I’ve also decided to treat those orange day lilies as parts of my gardens. For many years, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to remove them in favor of what I want to plant, forgetting that nature does pretty much what it pleases.

I’m all finished trying to remove them, and will admire and appreciate them instead. They are, after all, lovely flowers. They just don’t always grow where we’d want them to.

Other things to think about or do right now include:

*Cleaning up the lawn. Chances are, bits and pieces, as well as nearly full-sized branches, have fallen during the winter.

*Survey your garden tools. Replace any that are needed and clean those that were used during the previous growing season.

*Find someone to till the garden, mow the lawn and trim trees and bushes if you can’t or would rather not do it yourself.

*Breathe in the sweet smells of spring. Everything comes alive and takes on a whole new appearance and “feel” this season. Get outside and enjoy it.

As Mainers, we know that spring is painfully short, so we must take good advantage while we can.

Eileen M. Adams has been gardening for decades. Every season is new and full of surprises. She may be reached at [email protected]

Young crocuses get their spring on.

Budding lilacs reach for the sun.

A healthy group of early day lilies are on their way to bringing beauty to another growing season. 

Young garlic pokes through the soil.

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