Has spring arrived in your neck o’ the woods? Where I live (New York’s Hudson Valley, zone 5-b), February departed in record warmth, while March has arrived amid piercing cold. But my garden is slowly waking, as evidenced by the Galanthus (“snow drops”) pictured above. It’s too early to open the swimming pool. But we can get down and dirty with the following house and garden chores:
TIP: For more details about the various subjects in this post, just click the highlighted (i.e., purple) text.
Winter-Sowing. No matter the frigid weather, plant perennials and hardy annuals (including spinach) outdoors in make-shift greenhouses. Wait until later this month or early next to sow tender annuals and vegetables.
Play “Pick-Up-Stix.” Is your lawn littered with twigs and branches that broke loose during winter storms? Then do what I’m currently doing, and spend a few minutes each day picking up the debris. You’ll be glad to have the job completed before it’s time to fire up the lawn mower.
Gather and Shred Leaves. Shredded leaves make a terrific — and free — mulch for all veggie and flower beds. I shred mine with this light-weight machine.
Save Your Newspapers! I rely on the New York Times and a layer of mulch to keep my garden beds weed-free for an entire season. Here’s the how-to.
Arborvitae. If heavy, wet snow has flattened branches, lash them into place with twine. Stems should regain their upright habit over the course of spring and summer. More details.
Roses. Wait until the end of the month to uncover shrubs (you remembered to mulch them, right?). Prune the shrubs at your convenience but before the leaf buds break. (I prune my David Austin roses back by half; I do not prune my climbing roses, except to relieve them of dead wood.) Don’t try to prepare new beds until the ground is well thawed and the soil is workable.
Grab Your Pruners. Cut out all dead wood from trees and shrubs. Also, prune for shapeliness your Peegee hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, and other shrubs that bloom in late summer. Cut Buddleja (the common “Butterfly Bush”) back to ground-level now, unless you want a monster-size shrub (like mine, pictured above).
Spring-Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Want flowers for the house? Cut dormant stems of forsythia, pussy willow, crab apple (above), and quince. Give the stems water, light, and warmth (65°F max), and they will bloom for you in only two weeks time. More ideas.
African Violets. Are yours refusing to bloom? Better read this post.
Forced Tulips & Other Dutch Bulbs. Only some of these are worth keeping for future planting outdoors. For details, be sure to read this fascinating post: Forced Bulbs: What to Keep, and What to Toss.
Clean Your Bedroom. Or, just watch me clean mine.
Make Almond Butter Cookies. As a reward for your garden and household work, treat yourself to these gluten-free delights. As cookies go, they’re actually healthy. My step-by-step recipe.
Bake a Seasonal Tart. Grab some fresh asparagus spears, and turn them into a tart. Check out my recipe for The Best Asparagus Tart in the World.
Make Polpettine! These old-world Italian meatballs (which we should never confuse with American meatballs) are flavored with Parmesan cheese, fragrant herbs, and a big burst of lemon. They’re perfect for a March dinner party. The easy recipe.
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