15 Days Til Spring! and Natureworks Opens!

15 Days Til Spring! and Natureworks Opens!

We are on that magical countdown to the first day of spring AND the day that Natureworks opens for the year: March 19th, 2020. This is the earliest first day of spring in a long time and the weather seems to be in sync with the calendar. I have so many early spring bulbs up and blooming already. I have been constantly posting my pictures on Facebook as they appear. What’s up in YOUR garden? 
Every time I look, more bulbs are popping up in the sunniest spots of my garden. 
This Saturday I am SO excited to be giving a workshop at Organiconn, the CT NOFA winter conference at Wesleyan University. In the 90’s, I was on the board and even president of the board of NOFA. How far they have come since the early days! When I would run the winter conference, we 

Snow crocus are up in my garden and I even saw one giant crocus on the south side.

were lucky to get 50-60 people. It was in a church basement and it was a potluck! The last few CT NOFA conferences I attended had hundreds of attendees, an astounding number of workshops, excellent keynote speakers, lots of wonderful vendors, and a GREAT lunch. Do you know the term I am “in my tribe”? That’s how I feel at a CT NOFA event. I am with like-minded people that are already convinced an organic, sustainable lifestyle is the way to go and just want to learn as much as they can to make that happen. It is an amazing feeling. My talk is called Creating Balance in a Backyard Food and Flower Garden and uses my garden to explain how to create a balanced ecosystem. I am looking forward to attending lots of other workshops and helping out at our vendor booth. It is really a great bargain AND a wonderful way to get into gear for the coming spring season. 

The following Saturday, March 14th, is our all day workshop: The Natureworks Lawn Elimination Initiative. This day will be jam packed with classes that will inspire you to develop your yard into a happy habitat by reducing (or perhaps eliminating) your lawn which is an ecological desert for pollinators and other creatures. What will you do instead? Oh, there is so much to explore. The workshop is 3/4 filled already so don’t delay, register today! 

Hellebores galore will soon be filling our benches.

Natureworks is opening on Thursday, March 19th, the first day of spring. That is coming up SO fast. You should see all the activity at the store right now. Our new teaching tent is going up, the seed racks are being restocked, literally tons of organic fertilizers and soil amendments are being unloaded and put in our sheds, the shelves are filling up with new books, mason bee houses, and seed starting supplies. Soon the greenhouse will be stocked with the earliest spring flowering plants including Hellebores, pansies, Nemesias, snapdragons, Osteospermum, primroses… I bet you can’t wait! 

NOW is the time to cut branches of many flowering shrubs and bring them 

I can see the buds swelling on my quince shrubs. They are perfect for forcing indoors right now.

in the house for forcing. Forsythia is the most obvious, but I also force quince, Abeliophyllum, winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), Azalea mucronulatum, and Spirea prunifolia. The general rule is to count back 4-6 weeks from when the shrub would normally be flowering- that is how you decide which branches to bring in and force. 

When Natureworks opens, we will have everything you need for starting your tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds indoors as well as many other warm season crops. And the timing will be perfect- mid March is just right to make sure you have good sized plants to put out in late May. March is also the ideal time to sow breadseed poppies 

We always plant lettuce and sweet alyssum together. Last year the sweet alyssum I planted in April bloomed in my raised bed until early November!

directly on the ground. The old adage is to “plant your peas on St. Patrick’s Day” but I recommend you wait until the soil warms up. How will you know? Well, you use a soil thermometer. We tell every new gardener to grab one when they are here choosing seeds. It takes the mystery out of what to sow when if you follow the chart that is inside the package. If you plant too soon, your seeds may rot. Soil temperatures are key. A few other cool season crops that you will be able to direct sow in early April include lettuce, radishes, broccoli raab, and kale. We have all sorts of lists available for you to learn from both at the shop and on our website. If this will be your first year growing your own veggies, don’t worry. We will hold your hand and teach you. 

My daffodils are starting to poke their noses up through the soil already. Can’t you just smell their sweet perfume? 

I hope you are getting outside every sunny, mild day and puttering around in the yard. You can prune your raspberries and fruit trees in March. I have been organizing my stakes and chicken wire fence enclosures. I will be starting to cut down my ornamental grasses- I tie them up with biodegradable twine and cut them with the sickle. Most get placed on the passive compost pile in the way back. The Panicum grasses are used for mulch in my raspberry patch. You can prune tree hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) and rose of Sharon now. Don’t touch any shrubs that bloom in April, May, and June as their buds are set up on the branches and if you cut them now, you will cut off this year’s flowers. If you are unclear on how and when and what to prune, register for our pruning class on March 28th. There are only TWELVE spots left! 

When Natureworks opens on March 19th, we will have restocked our seed racks where you will find so many different kinds of zinnias, sunflowers, morning glories, nasturtiums, and other flowers for your garden. Herbs and veggies too. 
‘Lemon Queen’ annual sunflowers are one of the very best for pollinators. Did you know some sunflower seed mixes are developed to NOT have pollen (for cut flower bouquets) so the pollen doesn’t stain the table… and others are especially high in pollen. So much to think about when planting for pollinators!
Enjoy March, a month that excites us, teases us, and fill us with great hope. The sun is so much stronger. The days are so much longer. The birds are singing their hearts out. Flowers are emerging from the earth every single day. Don’t miss a moment- go outside, walk your yard, and see what’s up. 
I hope to see YOU at Organiconn this weekend, at The Natureworks Lawn Reduction Initiative all day workshop next weekend, at Natureworks when we open on the first day of spring. 
Happy March!   

This spring we will carry more than 30 varieties of Hellebores!