The attempt to out-fox the wily month of March

Abandoning the must-get-this-done-today list, I rush out to the garden in the soft, warm (50 degrees) weather and tackle the rose pruning job. Some small snips here and there, and then the loppers go for the bigger canes, and sometimes an anguished 'oooops', but I am in reverie, thrilled to be actively in the garden again without the bulk of long underwear and cap and gloves.

My thoughts wander through feelings of how the garden will be quite grand and perfect this year. However, it is March, with her devious ways, and all too soon, the wind whips up a fury that drives me back indoors to the dreaded list. The winds blow and I stare longingly at my garden through raindrop mosaics on the windows.

Not the dreaded list!

As an avid, and some might say, obsessed gardener, I have developed many March strategies. The most useful one is developing a list (not the dreaded kind!) of the jobs I want to or need to accomplish. Yes, it gets re-arranged constantly as far as priorities and weather conditions, but by developing the list, I do not have to constantly re-think my ideas.

From my winter readings I have some new thoughts for the garden. From the catalogues and my Internet surfings, I can order plants. So, what needs to get done to implement all these new plants and approaches? The list becomes invaluable.

I study the weather reports and actually schedule time, just like making a doctor's or a hairdresser's appointment, for time in the garden. Without that appointment staring me in the face, I get involved with other commitments, and then miss the glories of working in good weather.

It is true that until March revisits me with her unpredictable tantrums, I forget to make the appointments. But right after being chased indoors by a good March squalling rain burst, I grab the appointment book and start my weather researches. My most reliable source has always been the Farmer's Almanac. It is quite amusing to compare their predictions with other sources.


As far as the problem with mucky soils not adapting well to being trod upon, I have had great success with putting down two to three inches of bark mulch as a landing pad for my feet. Then I stretch my arms out to reach the weeds and other projects that need to be done nearby.

When I finish that area, I scoop the mulch into a bucket and move to the next area. Tedious? Yes, but so rewarding to get the areas cleared before the sudden arrival of the glorious rampant April growth spurt.

It is really only the vegetable beds that require this landing pad treatment for I always keep a thick layer of mulch on the garden beds. A few years ago I allowed it to get too thin, and had to weed the beds. Then I fully understood why people hate to weed. But it continues to amaze me that some gardeners, some quite exceptionally talented gardeners, are still loathe to mulch their garden beds. They bitterly complain about weeding and mucky soil. I don't understand.

Meanwhile, I exhaust myself trying to out-fox the wily month of March.

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