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  • spring is such an exciting time of year. Its like a fresh beginning and feels so hope full.

    A huge part of my simple lifestyle is working in my garden. Not only does growing your own food provide a sense of accomplishment  gardening in general provides a general sense of well being. Being outside and getting my hands dirty helps me connect with the earth and I am able to releive the stress of our modern world from my mind. When I am out working with plants and dirt in the fresh air I loose all sense of time and get completely lost in the moment. There are other honorable mentions of gardening as well such as being more connected and taking enjoyment in wildlife along with exercise. 

    with warmer temperatures and more rain growth explodes from the earth this time of year.

    Things are starting to grow at in the garden. It has been a cool start of the season and we are about a month behind where I live. 

    Nonetheless the herbs are coming up and the flowers are starting to grow. Many of the early spring flowers are almost ready to bloom and several wildflowers are already blooming. 

    I love walking around and looking for the new growth. It is such a surprise each day to see what has broken the earth. Around here we call the emerging foliage “baby plants” and I have to remind my kids for a few weeks to be careful where they step.

    Some of the earliest to come up are fresh herbs and I am beyond excited to start using them again in the kitchen. Its been a long winter of buying herbs. 

    Walking around the garden I see fresh herbs starting to grow as well as early spring flowers and bulbs.

    Lets go on a little tour and look at what is comming up in my yard. 

    Motherwort

    Motherwort is growing in several areas. I have so much land to fill and much of it is very hard to grow on due to the large pine trees and excessive needles that drop. This herb is very prolific and spreads like wildfire. I am not scared to grow it since it pulls up very easily. It scientific name is Leonurus Cardiaca it is a bee friendly plant that is beneficial to women’s health. Use it in tinctures and teas. It is also great for anxiety. 

     

    mint in several varieties

    Mint is in the same family as Motherwort. Unlike motherwort which spreads from the seeds mint spreads from the roots. It can be invasive. I debated long and hard before planting this herb right into the ground but ultimately I decided that if it will grow in the dead zones then I will be happy. I  love how it naturalizes and how it smells. Even if it migrates into my lawn areas I don’t think I will mind it as long as it gets  mowed regularly. If you don’t want it growing everywhere then plant it in a pot buried in the ground. There are quite a few varieties so I am not going to put up a scientific name. Mint is a favorite for cooking and tea. 

    comfrey

    Comfrey is another favorite of mine. I use it in handmade skin products such as salves. If you want a great salve recipe check this one out here. Its scientific name is Symphytum Officinale L. Comfrey is not only good in the first aid box it is also an amazing aid in the garden. The leaves are full of nutrients and using it in the compost or as a mulch will boost the health of the garden overall. 

     

    Oregano

    • Edit

    Oregano is up and looking strong. This herb is so wonderful in the kitchen and I am sure you are familiar with it. It is also in the mint family but it doesn’t grow as voraciously. There are also quite a few varieties so it depends on the one you grow what it’s scientific name is. Sometimes it goes by Marjoram and the flavor can vary. Oregano is rich in vitamins and nutrients and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. 

    feverfew

    Feverfew is one of my favorites. It has a million little white blooms when its is in flower and is another herb that is so easy to grow. It is in the daisy family and its scientific name is Tanacetum parthenium. This herb is also quite voracious but it is easy to control by pulling. I love it for how much it spreads and how beautiful it is in bloom. The green foliage also provides garden interest for most of the year.  Most people think it is a weed and pull but if you keep it around it will be beneficial to the bees. My very first plant came up as a volunteer from a house we used to own and I brought it to our new house in a small pot. Now it is in several locations. It is known to be used as a tea to treat headaches. 

    chives

    Chives are some of the best herbs to grow in my humble opinion. They are some of the very first to pop up and they smell so good. They are especially good to grow if you have chickens also since chives and eggs got together like butter and bread. Their scientific name is Allium schoenoprasum and they are close relatives to garlic, leek and scallion. Not only are they tasty but their juices work wonders for inflammation. They are a great culinary addition to almost any savory dish. 

    Early Spring flowers

    Violets, Primrose, Peace Lilly and Tulips are all making their grand debut. Tulips are one of my favorites. I love buying the bulbs in the fall, planting them and then being surprised in the spring because I had forgotten exactly where they were. 

    There are always large garden projects to do in the spring

    Two years ago we worked to cut out all the overgrown trees and bushes. I also build a large flower bed in an area that was too difficult to grow grass. We worked hard to get the grass to grow.

    Last year we bought 12 more yards of dirt to fill the garden beds and cover the hugelcukture mounds we built the previous year with all the cut wood. I shoveled the entire month of May. 

    This year we got a truck of wood chips dumped. Hopefully we can finish our garden paths and start mulching the flower beds. We are fortunate to live in an area with a lot of tree service companies that are super eager to get rid of their chipped wood. 

    If you want wood chips, call around and see if a tree service company near you will drop some off. Keep in mind you have to take the entire load and some areas may require a small fee. The first time we did this I only paid 20 dollars for about 20 yards of wood chips. So it is a really great deal. 

    The greenhouse is my favorite place to be right now

    Stuff is growing in the greenhouse! Late last month we got our shelves built and then I started planting right away. 

    I had a ton of little plastic pots that I have collected from purchasing starts over the years. I had them all stacked together in the shed. They really accumulate fast and I had no idea that I had as many as I did. 

    Still there can never be to many plants (unless you are talking about zuchinni). So I quickly ran out. I ended up using some plastic disposable cups to make up the difference. I quickly ran out of those too and now need to go buy more. I am a plant addict. 

    The disposable plastic cups are a low cost way to make starts. You can get a lot of seeds planed from just one bag. The trick is that you need to put a hole in the bottom for the water to drain out. 

    If you are environmentally conscious you can re use them quite a few times before they get brittle. The better quality you buy the longer they last. 

    I like to put them on a tray or in a pot saucer so that they are easy to move around and categorize. 

    many garden varieities of vegatables are cold hardy so you can start them in the soil as soon as it thaws.

    This past week I direct sowed cold hardy annuals in my garden beds. The kids helped me plant sugar snap peas, radishes, arugula, and leaf lettuce. 

    We always do a seed order in January. I find that by buying seeds from a reputable seed company I have more variety options as well as better germination rates. 

    Its surprising that even among radish varieties some are better suited to cold weather and some like it just a little warmer. If you want to read about the benefits to ordering seeds instead of buying off the shelf of a big box check out this post

    Garlic and Rhubarb by the peach tree

    Last spring I planted some garlic a friend gave me. March was the wrong time of year, it prefers to be planted in the fall. I decided to plant it anyway and it didn’t do great. By summers end it was all gone, the growth stunted and the green stems missing. I forgot about it during the fall clean up since I couldn’t see it and it all stayed in place over the winter. 

    To my surprise it has all come up and is stronger then ever! I planted most of it around my first year fruit trees as an organic pest and fungal control. I am anxious to watch it this year to see what it does. This year I will need to remember to plant garlic in the fall. 

    Can you see the Rhubarb back there? It is growing and looks great. Our favorite way to use it is in a syrup as a cordial or over ice cream. It makes great pie as well.

     

    That's the end of the Early Spring Garden tour. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something too!

    This time of year is busy. We have so much ground to cover (no pun intended) and the work load increases. I love to work in the cool of the spring so that by the heat of summer I can kick back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. 

    What do you grow? Let me know and feel free to ask questions. I am always happy to help you grow the best garden!

    March is the first month i can get out and work in the garden

    Early spring is so exciting as the temperatures warm and the snow starts to melt. I love March because it is a month of excitement and hope. I find myself looking forward to warmer weather but sill able to enjoy the small victories of 4o degrees, then 5o degrees and even warmer still 6o degrees. 

    As it slowly grows warmer fun surprises start to show up on our property. The vibrant color of the crocuses coupled with excitement as my children start to find the first insects and worms of the season. By summers end they will no longer want to play with the worms and slugs but in March anything is game.

    This year I was gone for most of the month traveling to see family. There was so much snow when I left and the temperatures were still so cold that I was fully expecting to return to snow and minimal change in the garden. It was amazing to me how much had changed when I got home. March has an incredible ability to be drastic and dramatic. 

    Once the snow melts and you can dig the dirt its time to get to work

    Right now I still have a ton of landscaping to do on our property. I can only bite off small chunks of work at a time since I home school my kids and have other work to do around the house. I find that it is easiest to do most of my major digging when the soil is still pretty wet from the melting snow. As soon as the ground thaws enough to dig I am out there with my shovel.

    Back in January and February I do all of my planning. This not only includes what vegetable and flower varieties I am going to grow and my seed orders but it also includes what plants need to be moved. 

    By March I have a handy list of what plants need to be relocated and since a garden is trial and error there is normally quite a bit to move. There is also usually quite a bit to repair. 

     

    March is also a great time to build new garden beds or boxes. I find that sometimes our current boxes need screwed back together and we almost always have to top with compost. I also like to plan a couple of new items to build each year around this time. This year I plan to make a compost bin and a cold frame in April. In the garden you always need to be thinking ahead so I like to look around and try to find materials I have on hand and places to put new projects during March to be prepared for April builds.

    March is the time to get the greenhouse ready for the upcoming growing season

    Our greenhouse if fairly new. We built it last year but didn’t have time to get the shelves built before spring was in full swing. 

    I like to start my veggie starts and a lot of flowers in the greenhouse early, by the first of April at the latest. This year we built our shelves and I am in love. I spent some time getting everything laid out and ready to go. 

    I plan to install a garden box one one side of our greenhouse so we only built two shelves on one side. This will leave room so we can build the box right on the ground and I can plant several tomato starts in the greenhouse and they should do well because they love heat so much. 

    I also spent some time organizing and cleaning up all my pots. I also looked through my seeds and made a planting plan. I love spending time in the greenhouse, its so warm and peaceful. 

    March is exciting because you can normally see some growth in the garden

    I walk around in March after the snow cover has receded and check on all my early perennials and herbs. I take note of how they look and if they are coming up. I normally can see chives, and rhubarb beginning to break the soil. If I have planted garlic I can check on its growth as well. 

    I love to see the new growth from the tulips and iris. March is a time for me to clean up all the pine needles that have fallen into the flower beds and on the lawns. We get a lot of needles and if we don’t clean them up they can kill he undergrowth. 

    March is the month for fruit tree pruning. You need to prune in the spring to encourage growth. For some varieties like apple you want to prune before the buds break and the tree wakes up. Other varieties like Peach may need treatment for disease but you will want to prune later in the season. For me as a matter of rule, if I want explosive growth I will prune most things in the late winter early spring. This trims the branches back while the roots remain, causing the tree to want to grow fast to catch up with the roots.

    Some plants do not need trimmed this early in the year and you can actually cause them to not bloom if you do. Don’t trim lilacs or hydrangeas in early spring. Check out a list by searching online for when to prune if you need more information. 

    Chickens in the Garden always need some love in March

    Its been a hard winter for chickens. I know that my girls were a little cooped up. They don’t love snow and they will tend to stay inside their coop if it is really rainy or snowing. Now that things are starting to thaw I can finally get in and clean out their litter which normally gets pretty gross during the frozen months. 

    I also shoveled their run and fixed the fences. I don’t want my girls free ranging when things are starting to grow, they will eat all the new buds and growth right out of the ground. 

     

    Its also a good time of the year to inspect the chickens for any lice or mites that they may have gotten in the winter months from being cooped up. They can get lice from other wild birds eating their feed. I like to also check their toe nails and the bottoms of their feet for any sores or excess growth from being less active. Bumblefoot can be a problem since they have had frozen litter and its harder for them to jump down from their roosts. 

    Basic List of Garden Chores For March

    • rake pine needles and leaves off flowerbeds and out of the lawn
    • clean chicken coop out and replace litter
    • give chickens a health inspection
    • prepare greenhouse for planting starts- clean it up, build shelves ect.
    • relocated perennials and bushes before they wake up
    • check garden planting areas for new growth and make repairs to boxes and planting boundaries
    • make any repairs to chicken coop and get the birds contained in their run to protect new spring growth
    • do a walk through and inspect planting areas, look for new growth or dead and diseased plants
    • do any major shoveling while the ground is soft for landscaping or transplants
    • inspect garden tools, sharpen edges, oil hinges on pruning shears

    Get excited for the upcoming growing season

    And just like that March will march on into April. 

     

    I still have a couple of projects I am hoping to do this spring before the planting season gets into full swing. I am looking forward to April. Check back in to see how to build a compost bin and a cold frame as that should be up for my April garden post. 

    What does March look like in your garden? Please share in the comments. I would love to read about what you do.

    I had big plans for this month.

    February was going to be my month to start working in my greenhouse. I was going to get ready to plant my cold season starts.

    There are shelves to build, and I want to put a garden box on the floor. It also needs some plastic and gravel on the ground for weed control.

    December and January were mild in temperature. I was actually feeling concerned because if it doesn’t get cold for a prolonged period of time we tend to have more insects, and plant diseases. But just as February began, it started to snow and it hasn’t stopped. Consequently I had to change my plans.

    I spent a lot of time outside shoveling snow this month. First I got to shovel off about two feet of snow from the greenhouse roof so it wouldn’t collapse. I also cleaned the gutters so that the snow could slide off on its own better.

    Mostly this month has just been a lot of shoveling and taking care of our chickens.

    Due to the snow our chickens have needed a little extra attention. We are in gardening zone 6 but the Master Gardeners and old timers in this area all say its more like a zone 4.

    I was raised in the middle of the high country of Wyoming, a true zone 4. Now that we live in Northern Idaho I often compare the climate to the climate of my youth.

    I find that frost comes much later in the fall and the snow is often gone by early March here in the Inland Northwest. Most of the after it snows the temperatures warm up and it melts within a few days. This year however, spring seems so far away.

    Chicken water in the winter takes extra work.

    We don’t have access to water outside the house in the winter. Even in the summer the spigot is about a quarter of an acre away from the chicken coop. Normally we just run a hose across the property, but in the winter it becomes a little more difficult.

    Lucky for me I found a simple little water jug with vertical nipples from the farm store for the birds to use in the winter. It plugs into a power source to keep it just slightly warmer then freezing.

    I had to bring the oyster shells into the house and defrost and wash them. The chickens need oyster shells for calcium to build strong eggshells. The container had been exposed to the elements and the chickens no longer had access due to it being frozen. I also washed all the dummy eggs.

    Shoveling the enclosed chicken run was a top priority. It doesn’t have a cover on it yet so there was quite a lot of snow in there. The girls have been free ranging since last September but now the snow is so deep they don’t venture out much. They need to be able to come out of the coop so they can get some exercise.

    We also have to keep the coop cleaner in the winter because it is so wet. The chicken coop is water tight but since the birds stay inside so much they just make it wet when they poop.

    It helps to keep the moisture level down and the eggs clean if I clean out the pine shavings about once a month. I also give the birds fresh bedding. A sprinkling of Zeolite powder on the fresh bedding helps adsorb some of the moisture and odor.

    There is folklore that “In years when the Mountain Ash bears heavy fruit the winter will be hard”.

    There is a large number of Mountain Ash trees in our area. Last summer I watched them grow heavy with berries. One of our trees actually broke a large branch due to the weight of the berries and it landed on our scarecrow and busted him in half. I have been watching the trees and taking note of the “wives tale” for a few years now. When I told my friends about my plan to see if the folklore was true they all told me that we had a forecast for a very mild winter.

    Due to how the winter started it seems we were on track to have a mild winter. Now things have changed and the snow is deep and the temperatures are cold.

    In January hundreds of birds ate all the berries from the trees in a single day. l feel sad for them since most of the food reserves are gone now and the snow is going to take a long time to thaw.

    I know spring will come but its going to be weeks before we see the ground again out there. For a fun project the kids and I hung suet up in the trees for the birds.

    Since there is not much to do outside we will continue to plan and dream of our garden plans for the spring. Hopefully next month I can show you my updated greenhouse!

    Can you garden where you live this time of year? I would love to hear about your garden plans in the comments below.

    January in our garden is quiet and cold. Nothing grows outside but there is a lot growing inside. January is the time to start growing your garden dreams and preparing to make them a reality.

    January is all about the planning, especially if you live in a Northern climate.

    This is the time you get to dream about what you want to grow, and look out your windows and imagine it growing out in your landscape.

    We spend January planning where we are going to build the new garden beds and what plants to invest in. I also plan out what veggies we are going to grow. I go online and find seed companies and request their catalogues. The kids and I look through them and circle things that we like the most.

    Then we make lists.

    We make lists of what plants to move, and what needs built. We make lists of what needs purchased wither it be tools, dirt, gravel or building materials. Then we put the list in order of top priority.

    Sometimes I will spend time drawing out what I want the garden to look like in using linear perspective. That’s when I draw a 3D image on a 2D surface.  You don’t need an art degree for this, just an imagination and a pencil. I try not to get hung up on perfection; I draw large shapes that are approximations of what the plants will look like in the high growing season. If I am really motivated I color it in.

    In January we put in our seed order and celebrate when it arrives.

    We can’t move on to springtime gardening without our plan and seeds. We need the seeds in hand so we know what to start early in the greenhouse and the supplies we will need to get them started.

    Why should you order seeds from a reputable seed company? Why not just buy them off the rack at your local big box store?

    The bottom line is that cheap seed is actually more expensive.  Seeds from a reputable seed company save you time and money in the long run because the plants are more likely to grow and be healthy.

    If you want to learn more about why that is you can read more about it here.

    We just got our seed order for the year and we are so excited!

    Take a peek in our box and see what we got. The hopes are high, the excitement is growing.

    I try to pick out varieties and plants that I know we will eat.  My family can be picky so I know not to spend money on a ton of items that no one will enjoy or eat.

    We keep our seed order simple and sweet. It came in the other day and now we can move on to the next stage of our garden prep, planning our greenhouse shelves.

    I am not affiliated with High Mowing Organic Seed, we just love them and have used them for years. There are many other awesome seed companies out there to choose from. If you want a list go here and scroll down to the bottom of the post.

    January check list.

    • Make a list of what you want to grow
    • Do a tool inventory and see what you need or need to replace
    • Contact seed companies and get their catalogs
    • Spend some time trying to visualize your garden as its growing
    • Pick out your varieties of vegetables you want to buy and price out your budget
    • Put in your order
    • Plan for any structures you need to build, garden boxes, compost ect. and make a budget

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