2014-03-21 / From The Garden

Tonic for the Early Spring Blues

By Cynthia Gibson


Snowdrops are small, you need to plant a large number to make a dramatic effect. Snowdrops are small, you need to plant a large number to make a dramatic effect. One day you can smell spring in the air and the next we are back to snow flurries. March comes in like a lion, but like all of you I am sure, I am more than ready for the lamb. Although it still feels like winter, it is spring and time to start your seeds indoors. Get your plants growing now to be ready for the beginning of May. As we have seen many times before, as soon as the last cold snap ends we will be thrown into “real“ spring with a deluge of rain.

Signs of early spring are everywhere. Daffodils are up two to three inches, the catkins on the pussy willow trees are beginning to pop, and your snowdrops should be here very soon.

It is the perfect time of year to take a walk around your house, gardens, and property in general. Give the “nasty eyeball” to all of the twigs and branches on your lawn, scoff at the bare spots of grassless patches, and sweep the mounds of sunflower seeds from the bird feeders into the trash. It is indeed the ugliest time of year.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Despite its dismal introduction, spring also brings with it flowers and promises of hope: hope of great gardens, terrific cookouts, and vegetables soon to be shooting out of the ground. And, with just a bit more sun, we will all feel better!

My tonic for the early spring blues? Dig in!

. Get out your clippers, and start pruning. It is time to cut back hedges, privets, and trees. Spray all fruit trees with horticultural oil to deter overwintering insects and their eggs. Say hello to your friend the rake, and get out those tall brown bags for lawn waste.

. Check all of your gardening tools, right down to the garden hoses and sprinklers. Take time to sharpen your clipper and lawnmower blades.

. Area nurseries and garden centers are just beginning to receive their inventory for spring, and you have a month and a half until you put tender plants into the ground.

. Spinach, kale and radishes can be planted outdoors now. These hardy leafy vegetables can withstand the plummeting night temperatures and daytime highs in the 40s.

. While on your walkabout, check to see where water is puddling (telltale spots that will need more soil).

. Once the thermometer reads in the high 40s-low 50s, the real work can begin. Buy grass seed, and when it is a bit warmer scratch and weed the bald spots. Sow your lawn seed and double up on the amount recommended, as birds will eat half of it, or simply re-seed in another week.

. Look at your flower and vegetable beds. I hope that you have used landscape cloth over the top of your vegetable beds so gigantic new clumps of crabgrass will not attack you next month. How do they get to be so big?

Put on your jacket, take that brief walk outdoors, and get going. It really is not that cold any longer. Remember, spring is here!

Garden Tip

If you like to grow from seed, you should be starting your asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peppers, and tomatoes indoors. By the time the first week in May arrives your plants should be at least five inches tall. Place your seed trays in a window and add grow lights if you do not have a southern exposure. As the seeds germinate and grow tall, remember to rotate the trays of seeds so your plants do not look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Return to top