Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring beds

All the Fall backbreaking work of weeding, leaf collecting and mulching really pays off big time in Spring.  Since I pull all the weeds and annuals and cut down 95% of the perennial stalks in November, then mulch deeply with tons of leaves, there is very little to do to make beds ready in Spring.

As you can see, there are no weeds.  No cleanup per se.  This type of gardening is a function of my using all of my leaves in Fall.  I mulch the beds for winter.  There being no sense mulching over weeds or annuals those get pulled and put into compost.  I also have to cut back the perennials so it's easier to move the leaves around on the beds.  More debris for the compost.  I leave up just enough decorative stalks to have some winter interest (autumn joy sedums umbels, astilbe sprays, and the like).  It's easy enough to clip those off this time of year when it's not actually warm enough to play outside, but nice enough for a bit of a walk-about with clippers.

While it is a lot of work, I've no regrets doing so much in October/ November.  It's usually dry that time of year and I've had all summer to get myself in shape which makes things go smoother.  (This time of year the ol' muscles have gone a bit soft over the long winter and don't want to hit the ground, any ground, running. ;-D )  About all I'll have to do in early May is pull back some of the mulch to let the sun warm up the soil before I install any plants.

Rest assured, however, I'm not sitting around with my feet up, goofing off until May.  No sirree.  I've been busy and have posted on 3 of the side pages today (Propagation, Flower & Vegetable).  Lots more to see over there. Check 'em out.

Meanwhile, here's a quick tour of the backyard beds as of today.  Point your cursor at any pic to pause the scrolling and view the name of the bed(s).

Bottom line, though, the biggest benefit of doing all the work at the end of the year is psychological.  When I finally tuck in for winter and look outside for months, there is not a lot of hard work staring back at me, waiting, making me dread the thaw.  Nope.  All that looks back at me are finished beds.  Beds that are probably looking in at *me* and waiting, maybe dreading whatever crazy plan I hatch this year. LOL  

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  1. Kris, I just had this discussion of Fall versus Spring cleaning of beds.
    She and I both do Spring....leaving the stalks to protect from heaving and extreme cold.

    I think you are right, deep mulch would do the same and the weeds couldn't get a foothold. My problem is lack of leaves. I am pretty sure I can pick up leaves free at the fall leaf recycle center. I plan to give that a try this fall.I don't mind the cleaning, but then there is the sold groundcover of certain winter annuals.

  2. Explanation of my comment:

    I had the discussion with my sister who lives in Iowa.

  3. Glenda - One thing about my beds is that with the Fall leaves, I choose not to garden with ground covers or those kinds of plants that reseed themselves (like biennials). With the latter, I sprout them under lights in the basement then plant them out in Spring. I have more control over their spread that way.

    2nd bonus of the leaves is that they do a great job of holding moisture for the plants. Then, when they've broken down (late June-ish) I start piling on the grass clippings for mulch. All the beds end up making their own compost every year.

    Last year I planted 10 Eastern white pines so soon I'll be able to add pine needles (my fave mulch to the mix. Yay.

  4. Glenda - you could try doing just one bed this Fall with your snagged leaves and see how it works for you. I'm always intrigued how one of your Spring cleanup methods is to set the bed on fire. Wow!

  5. Well, that was another suggestion from my Sis, actually her husband does it for her (a lot of the work gets done that way!)

    You know these are all native grasses that used to cover our prairies and Mother Nature used lightening to clear them off periodically. The other option is to cut them with either pruning shears, electric pruners or the small chain saw. They are so big around now, the hand things is almost out of the question for me.

  6. I did the same thing with my beds since I wasn't sure how long it would take to recover after surgery. It was wonderful knowing I didn't have a ton of work waiting for me. Great slide show!! :o)

  7. Tammy - it's still in the low teens every morning and barely above freezing during the days. Not at all tempting to go outside these days. I'm still waiting for spring. I'm really glad so much is going on in the basement so when the weather does break I'll be ready with plants. Glad you are recovering nicely!

  8. Your gardens look great year round and I wish I were so motivated!

  9. Pumpkin Patch - long time no hear from! Glad you stopped by. Congrats on #3 on the way. Don't know about you, but I'm up to ^ with this stupid winter. I'm tired of being cold. Hope all is well. :-D

  10. I wish I would have done more last it's all staring me in the face!! One reason I didn't, because I've been finding Praying Mantis sacs among the perennial stalks in the spring, and if I'd have cut them off in the fall, I'd have lost all of those wonderful Praying Mantis babies! :)

  11. Alica, had any of my stalks been blessed with mantis sacs you can bet those would have been left, or taken to a more sheltered spot. But I've only seen one mantis in the last 8 years. Too much pesticide and land 'development' clears forage plants. :-( But I keep hoping...


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