Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ready, Get Set, Go!

I think it's started!  At least, I'm hoping it has!  As we were driving down the highway yesterday, we noticed it.  The paperwhite narcissus were blooming!  Surely, that's a sign:
spring is coming soon!


It's been warm enough lately to go outside and play work a bit.  I cheerfully put on my sweat pants and a light jacket.  Mr. Holleygarden calls sweat pants "fat pants", leaving no doubt in my mind the answer to the question: "Does this outfit make me look fat?"

The delivery men know my gardening clothes.   In fact, everyone that knows me has come to understand the sign my attire conveys:
I'm working outside.


GET READY!

My first chore is to start on the mulching.  Mulching is work that I love.  Not while I'm doing it.  But, afterward, it is so satisfying to see the beds.  They have a finished look to them.  They can have just one or two plants in them, and they look as if the bed is designed, not bare.

In learning how to mulch, there are just a few things to remember:

  • Don't put the mulch too close to the wood of the plant.
  • Mulch can prevent any new (wanted) seeds from coming up.  
  • Mulch will break down over time, making this an annual chore.  

But it is well worth all the time and effort.  Not only does it make the garden beds look beautiful, it makes the soil nice and fertile, too.  I am always amazed when I dig down and see the signs:  
the soil is dark and lovely, not too heavy, not too sandy.  

From what I understand, northern gardeners mulch to protect their plants from the thaws and freezes over the winter months.  I mulch to keep the soil cooler in the heat of summer.  Every year I vow I'm going to mulch every bit of my garden before it gets too hot to work outside, requiring me to finish in the autumn.  We'll see how far I make it this spring.  I watch the sun as it moves higher in the sky.  I can read the sign:
believe it or not, it will be hot soon!



GET SET!

My schedule changes throughout the year.  Right now, it's inside chores in the morning (because it's too cold to be outside), while the warm afternoons are spent outside.  In the summer, that reverses: outside work in the morning, until it gets too hot, then work inside for the rest of the day.  There are just a few days that I can work outdoors all day long, first in the spring then again in the autumn.  I cherish those nice days.  My family knows the sign that those days have arrived:
indoor work is completely ignored.

My mother, especially, thinks it's odd that I love to garden.  I've always been a bit squeamish.  When I was young, I turned away from worms, screaming.  Now I admire them, and cart them off to places where I want better soil.  I used to grow my fingernails long.  Now they are an embarrassment to me.  Short, ragged, and sometimes dirty.  I look at other women's hands.  I am always disappointed when I see one with beautifully manicured nails.  I look for someone who has nails like mine.  That is an unmistakable sign:
they're a gardener, too!


GO!

I've begun mulching.  Little buds and blooms are showing.  Days are getting longer.  It's only January, but the signs are there:  
spring is right around the corner!  





76 comments:

  1. We are in the dead of winter here but it's encouraging to see some signs of spring happening elsewhere.
    | can't wait!

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    1. It's always exciting to see those first signs of spring! Gives such joy to a gardener!

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  2. What a fun post! I am excited for spring too! I also push aside household chores during the summer months and I have to drag myself in the house just to cook dinner too.

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    1. Yes, any excuse to get out of those household chores and I'll take it! ;)

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  3. I know how you feel. Mr S and I worked outside this afternoon pruning roses. It felt like a spring day, and I too could see spring peeking around the corner! I am now pleasantly sore from that little bit of work. I used to worry about my manicured nails, and finally decided that I would rather garden than worry about broken nails. I am much happier now!

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    1. Yes, now that I don't really care about what my hands look like (or for that matter, all the scratches from the rose bushes all over my body!), it's so much easier to garden without worrying about what others think!

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  4. This post made me smile! My garden attire is the same as yours and I got to don the unifom on Saturday (Who am I trying to kid here, the sweats are almost always on when I'm at home.) The point, and I do have one, is that since we had a relatively nice day yesterday, I got out and did some winter gardening. It felt wonderful to be outside working again. Happy almost spring!

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    1. It always feels so wonderful to be outside working. I think we just become addicted to the air or the dirt or something!

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  5. We don't begin having Spring until March --at the earliest... However, this is a strange year.... Spring 'may' come earlier this year. BUT---we had a big frost last night---and the Pansies don't like that... SO----who knows?????

    Hope your spring comes soon ---and you can share some of your gorgeous flowers with us.

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Spring's arrival is always so iffy. Winter doesn't like to give up, and she can play some pretty nasty jokes at the end. I hope spring doesn't allow that to happen!

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  6. I'm so happy for you. And it's a sign that spring will eventually get here. Beautiful flowers! I am the same way about housework and dirty fingernails--year-round. ;-) But at least I have an excuse from March through October!

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    1. Like you, the rest of the year, I just try to make things up so I don't have to do the housework!

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  7. Fat pants? No, they are work pants, lol! I am so happy for you, seeing all those flowers popping up all over. I will enjoy watching your garden spring to life while we wait. My fingernails are a disaster all the time, summer and winter, and I have no excuse in winter other than neglect and stained glass grinders taking them down to mere stubs. And my housework NEVER seems to be a top priority, oh dear!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. At least you have the excuse of stained glass grinders in winter! I don't know why mine always look so ragged - I guess it's just their habit now!

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  8. Hi Holley, nice motivating post! My first chore in the garden in January is the pruning of the roses, then I to cut back and clean-up all other plants, after that comes fertilizing and mulching. I agree with you that mulching has many positive visual and nourishing effects on the garden and the plants. Each year I try to mulch the whole garden, but never get around to do it all. So by now I alternate the sections that I mulch each year. I was out there today for two hours continuing to prune my roses and it was freezing cold, at least that was the way it felt to me. Really hope you read the signs right and that spring is on the way. Happy mulching!
    Christina

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    1. I do all the pruning, cleaning, etc., in between mulching. I really never do get all done. We don't prune our roses until mid-February, so this gives me a good excuse to get outdoors - and away from housework! :)

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  9. It sounds like you're getting good weather. Wish I could say the same but its mostly rain and gales in Northern Ireland. On the positive, our grass sure is green!

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    1. We have had a dry winter so far. I'm hoping it doesn't turn into a drought this summer! Be thankful for that rain, and that green grass!

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  10. It is indeed! Isn't it nice when you the weather is right and you finally get the chance to get stuck in gardening once again? A lovely feeling! Roll on spring!

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    1. Spring - it's what we live for - or at least a nice warm day! :)

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  11. O, my hands are itching when I read your post. I cannot do anything in the garden, the snow is melting but the soil is still frozen. The weather turned in 2 days, no skating anymore. I hope I can start pruning, mulching and so on within a few weeks, but it may be even March. You have already a Camellia bloom and I saw a blue grape, lovely, I'm now looking forward to spring.

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    1. I hope spring comes early for you. Winter is such a long time for the gardener - whether it lasts just a few weeks, or a few months.

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  12. I am absolutely convinced of the attributes of a good mulch. Our soil is too cold yet, but it won't be long before I'm having a jolly good mulch around!

    I know what you mean about nails, but remember, they are the hallmark of a hands-on gardener!

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    1. You are right - and that's why I'm always checking out the nails of people I meet. I would love to see some grubby fingernails just like mine! :)

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  13. Oh how wonderful to see spring arriving. The excitement in the air! Enjoy your new buds!

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    1. Yes, as autumn begins approaching for you. I hope both your winter and my summer are mild.

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  14. You are so lucky to be out working in the outdoors right now. We still have months to go.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. I'm not sure what I would do if I had a long winter. Probably have a cleaner house! ;)

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  15. ! you are definitely lucky! In Poland where I live there is snow everywhere. No signs of spring :(

    ReplyDelete
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    1. So sorry - I hope winter will be short for you!

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  16. I'm always in my gardening gear - maybe that's wishful thinking somedays, but it's easy enough to get changed out of them again.
    Gardening pants, broken and dirty fingernails - I thought you were describing me there for a minute!!
    I mulch in autumn for the frosts and I do love that it make the garden look so neat and tidy.

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    1. I love when the garden is freshly mulched, too. I just doesn't stay that pretty long!

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  17. whenever I held my mother's then silky hands, she would murmur Gardener's Hands ;~)

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    1. What a lovely memory. Your mother must have had a great sense of humor!

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  18. Well, you would really like my nails! I envy you out there working and doing garden chores right now. Up here a trip to the mailbox at the end of the driveway is outdoor activity, and involves getting dressed appropriately for it by bundling up.

    Happy mulching!

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    1. Oh, i hate bundling up! So much trouble, it seems! Especially for such a short trip as to the mailbox and back. But, you probably wouldn't envy my summers. They get a little too hot!

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  19. We're almost there too! I plan to get out this week, since it's supposed to hit 70. The sweat pants were never put away for the winter (who needs nice clothes when you work from home), but it's almost time to get more Bag Balm in anticipation of my summer gardener's hands.

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    1. Wahoo! 70 sounds perfect! I've never tried the bag balm, but I've heard it's fabulous for hands!

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  20. Oh heavens, my envy is palpable. It is snowing here and the ground is frozen.

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  21. Yes, spring IS coming soon! We're a few weeks behind you, but I still felt it this weekend--and have a little teeny, unexpected sunburn to prove it. Enjoy your mulching and these cool, pleasant days of GARDENING SEASON! (Woo hoo!)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, have to enjoy it now, because soon it will be too hot to be gardening season! ;) A sunburn already? I have vowed to put on sunscreen this year - and hopefully my wrinkles won't get too much worse! :O

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  22. I guess it is right around the corner in California (that's where you live, right?) :-). Here in NJ, it is freezing cold, snow, slush, sleet, ice-rain - everything that you can think with an Arctic climate - is here. I am waiting for the race to begin soon, though.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. No, I live in Texas - still a hot climate, although I think California doesn't get much of a winter at all! I feel for you in the cold, snow, slush, etc. Doesn't sound pleasant.

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  23. I'm wondering if spring will come early. It's been really warm here, for a while.
    Of course, this is Texas. The weather can change in a second. And, usually does.
    There is plenty clean up to do here. And, I'm still rethinking the deer infested areas.
    Oh...and, my nails are awful. A sure sign of a gardener...lol

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    1. You are so right about the weather changing in seconds. I'm hoping February won't decide to become our winter!

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  24. Oh I so relate to this post! The USPS ...and UPS...and neighbours all know my gardening attire too! HAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaa! And yes...indoor work IS TOTALLY ignored. I have "laundry couch".....need a shirt?....check laundry couch kids! ;) happy gardening!

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    1. Laundry couch!? I have a laundry dining table! :)

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  25. No mulching here for a long time to go. We woke to an ice storm. Temps to warm then go cold again at the end of the week. Can only dream and plan at this time of year.

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    1. Well, I hope you get lots of plans finalized. The words 'Ice storm' does not sound good for the garden - or the gardener!

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  26. Oh Holley I can't stand on my pants too! And your posts are not helping! :-)
    I totally agree about mulching I do it to preserve the soil during the summer heat but honestly my mulch doesn't look good at all. I use everything I cut in the garden to mulch: grasses, perennials, leaves, dry weeds, wooden chips... I can't buy proper mulch, I'd need too... mulch! What do you mulch with?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I mulch with pine needles - because it's free! We have pine trees planted here, so it's easy for me to gather it up and cart it to my beds. But I love the look of hardwood mulch, and if I could afford it, I would have it everywhere in my garden. And if I could afford it, I would have someone else spreading it!

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  27. The ground here is still frozen but it's gratifying to read your upbeat words inspired by spring!

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  28. Hi...this is my first time visiting your blog and boy can I relate to this post! Especially the part about your gardening clothes and your nails! I look forward to following your blog and hope you visit mine.

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    1. So glad you came by! I would love to see everyone post a picture of their hands! That would make me feel much better!

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  29. I'm so jealous, it'll be months before I can get out in my garden yet. I was similar as a child, couldn't stand bugs. Now I have my trusty garden gloves and all is right in my world.

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    1. You are right - I do have my garden gloves on while i'm moving the worms around! I think I'd still be a bit squeamish about picking one up bare handed!

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  30. Hello Holley, we have gone from minus 5 last week to plus 13 Celsius, seems like the cold snap is over, hopefully we won't get another one!

    I mulch before Christmas, to protect against any frost, not always necessary, and to protect against heat and water loss in the summer - not always necessary either unfortunately! But most of all I mulch with bark chippings in all my beds so I don't have to do any weeding :-)

    Can't wait to get spring going again, we were so well off before we were interrupted by this 2 weeks cold snap.

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    1. I hope all your cold snaps are over. And I'm so glad you brought up about the mulch suppressing the weeds. I think I forgot to say that! Somehow I always get weeds anyway, but it sure does help!

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  31. My nails are short, but currently not dirty, an unusual occurence, and entirely due to the weather, which is wet. Very wet. So I rather envy you being able to get outside and work - I am waiting for another break in the weather, I do so love to be outside in the garden. Good luck completing your mulching before the weather gets too hot!

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    1. Rainy weather is probably harder to take than cold. Cold is expected, and although rain is very much needed, it's hard to just watch from inside, knowing that if it wasn't raining, one could be outdoors playing!

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  32. It is coming and I can only ready for spring by making plans and growing seeds...no outdoor work, no mulching...my time is so short when it finally is time to be outside that i never get all he beds mulched and I gave up on the back and let the leaves mulch for now...so much organic matter that I think it is helping my clay.

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    1. Clay has to be the hardest soil to make fertile. It would be wonderful if nature did it for you!

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  33. I'm so glad it's just not me who ignores the house when I am heavily gardening.

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    1. I actually ignore it most of the time, but at least my husband (sorta) understands when I'm out there gardening, instead of just wasting the day looking outside, wishing i was gardening!

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  34. I share the same philosophy on gardening, housework and nails.

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    1. So glad to know i'm not the only one! I would hate to think that some gardeners could have it all - a beautiful garden, a clean house, and beautiful nails, too!

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  35. I've got to mulch, but right now the covering of snow is our garden mulch...lol.

    Do you have Burt's Bee's there? Try some lemon cuticle cream, it should really help out your nails.

    Jen

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    1. I have tried that before, and love it! I need to remember to put it on every night before I go to bed.

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  36. Here in Australia, it is mid-summer. I was away during the cooler months last year and didn't get around to mulching. It's on my to-do list, but it has been too hot, and now that our rainy season has started, I will pay the price. There is going to be lots and lots of weeding to do, but hopefully I can mulch as I go, once it cools down a bit.

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    1. One year, I missed mulching entirely, too. It took a couple of years of weeding to get over it, but eventually, everything returned to the "regular" amount of weeds. Good luck!

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  37. Storms are moving through today, cold will surely follow. Paperwhites, early daffodils and hyacinths are all blooming, even some azaleas, but it is not spring.

    I garden in jeans, 'Smith's Dungarees since 1906' being my favorite. Thorns tend to grab sweat pants.

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    1. Yes, I get caught up in the thorns in my sweat pants. And they are not much protection, either. I really should find some jeans I feel comfortable enough to garden in.

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  38. When I was younger and had beautifully painted long fingernails and manicured hands, I looked in horror at an older friends hands. Over the years she shared with me her love of gardening. Now my hands look like just hers and I don't really care - they are a reminder to me of all my happy times spent gardening.
    Oh and I do agree with you - Jogging bottoms are definitely the most comfortable gardening gear, you can always pop a pair of lightweight waterproofs over the top if necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I did the same thing when I was younger - looking at other people's hands while I had on painted nails. Now I know that the women that have beautifully manicured nails look at my hands with disgust, but they don't understand the pleasure we gardeners get from our gardens.

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