Tilling garden now gives head start to garden

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By Cheryl Steenerson

I know it’s March. Tournament basketball is on TV. So, where is that spring weather?

Tomorrow is officially the first day of spring, and I believe we are all looking forward to a little more warmth.  But the “old man” just doesn’t seem to want to go. On the bright side, the Earth is shifting, so warmth will eventually get here. When the mercury does rise to the upper 90s and people start complaining, I’m going to speak two words to them. (No, not those two words.) I’ll simply say, “Beats winter!”

My neighbors have already plowed their gardens. I encourage everyone who doesn’t grow flowers and vegetables in raised beds to do the same. We’re still going to be getting plenty of wet stuff, so the sooner you get to digging, the sooner you’ll get to planting. Remember, plowing and digging wet soil ruins it. Of course, the soil eventually will recover, but it makes it difficult for the nutrients and minerals to feed the plants, especially if it contains a lot of clay.

Keep a close eye on the weather this spring and get out there when you can, because we’re going to have a wet one.

This is also the time to grab some bags of corn-meal gluten and put it in the walk-behind spreader. This stuff will keep broadleaf weeds from emerging in the yard and fertilize the grass at the same time. Add in a little nitrogen and your lawn will make the green of St. Patrick’s Day pale in comparison.

Throughout this winter I have had the drapes pulled much of the time. It keeps the heat in and my electric bill a little lower. Now that the temperature has risen a little, I’ve taken to letting the sun shine in whenever possible. There’s only one drawback: I discovered my windows are filthy.

You’d think with all the moisture that we’ve had that they would be sparkly clean, but no. So I’ll be breaking out the vinegar and water, which I keep in my garden sprayer. The sprayer is easier on my hands; otherwise, with all of the windows on my house, that would be a lot of spritzing. I spray a few outside windows and by the time I get back with the paper towels, the vinegar has made scrubbing easier.

After you’ve cleaned the glass, switch to apple cider vinegar and spray around window and door sills to keep the creepy crawlies outside. We country folk have had enough wildlife in our houses this winter. I have a mouse that just loves my kitchen. Cotton balls, laced with peppermint oil, usually do the trick. I place them around pipes and openings and they stay away from that. This little feller must have found another way inside.

It took me forever to figure out how to set the mousetrap. I had one of those with fake cheese and fifty holes. The funny part is that I haven’t seen the little furball since I set the trap on the counter. That’s a win-win: The mouse stays away and I don’t have to dispose of anything.

As the great thaw gets under way, take advantage of sunny days to get your garden fencing up. There is no sense planting in Anderson County if you can’t protect your goodies. Too many rabbits and deer are waiting in the wings for fresh greens.

Now, get the mower tuned up and that summer gear washed! Find all of your tools, line out that garden bed and work outside until the tree frogs start singing! As of tomorrow, we can finally say “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?”

Happy Growing!

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. She can be reached at paysteen@shelbybb.net.