Spring is here! Bulbs are starting to pop up in protected areas and even if it were to snow again there is warmth to the air that was missing a month ago.
Two of my fish are out from hibernation in my backyard pond, one of them a baby from last summer. So I choose to take those signs to heart and believe that gardening season is upon us. But, oh yes, bring on the moisture, even if that means frosts and snow.
The recent moisture has helped a lot and I can see the tree buds starting to swell. So what, you may ask, can we do at this time of year to our gardens, a solid six weeks away from the last expected frost? First of all, water. It has been a long winter and our beloved friends need help. Get in the habit of watering every other week until you can get your irrigation system on. Second, clean up the garden area for good. Get all of the little leaves and branches up. Fertilize and leave your garden tidy with a nice thick layer of mulch. This will protect your plants as they come up from the temperature fluctuations, freezes, and dry spell. Mulch also pleases the eye, a nice dark blank slate for spring.
Next, prune your trees, especially fruit trees if they have not yet started to bud up or produce leaves yet. If you missed the window to prune this year there is always next winter for pruning. Always prune at a branch intersections if possible. Eliminate crossing and crowding branches so that the other ones will have more strength and light when they bloom and leaf out. Remove dead trees and bushes, especially piñon. Plant native grass and wild flower seeds to take advantage of the early spring moisture. Cut back your ornamental grasses so that the new growth will not be damaged as it comes in.
Last but not least, keep planning. Bring in soil for an addition to your garden. Start planting trees and shrubs. Pick out your new perennials. Get some more pots. Get excited. If your irrigation system did not meet your standards last year, consult a professional about improving it. If you felt guilty about using too much water, consider putting in a cistern while your garden is still dormant. Consult a professional about adding more drought tolerant plants. Keep hoping, stop dreaming, start moving and start shaking.
Kendall McCumber, owner of McCumber Fine Gardens, has been designing and maintaining gardens for Santa Fe residents for ten years. McCumber Fine Gardens designs, installs and maintains all sizes drought tolerant gardens, stonescapes, irrigation and water harvesting systems. Call Kendall at (505) 660-9599 for a consultation.
by Kendall McCumber