The siren’s call of spring

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2017

About this time every year when the weather starts bestowing wonderful yet fleeting 70-degree sunny days upon us, I struggle to restrain myself from answering the siren’s call of spring.

On these days, I would like nothing better than to spend time busying myself pruning, digging, composting and planting in the garden beds. So much to do after a long winter’s rest that seemed like it would never end.

Instead, I eagerly inspect the cover crops that were planted in the vegetable garden for any sign that it is time to cut and turn under, knowing it is still too soon they have not yet reached their full potential. I longingly survey my perennial gardens wanting so to prune back all the old growth and spent seed heads from the season past — all the while checking for the faintest glimpse of green color protruding from the ground signaling the awakening of spring.

Alas! It’s still too soon to emerge from the garden shed with an armful of garden tools, my course set straight for the gardens. I remind myself the virtue of patience is now of utmost importance if I want to be successful with my gardening endeavors this year. Even so, there are some garden activities that should be addressed during this time of year.

If you are planting a vegetable garden, February is a fine time to plan out your beds. I rotate my vegetable crops to a different location in the garden every year and never plant straight line rows. I also companion plant. All this helps to deter pests and also eliminates the struggle for certain nutrients between two plants with similar appetites.

I also find it simplifies the whole seed-ordering and plant-buying process. It is much easier to shop when you know exactly what you are shopping for. Save your garden plans each year. By referring to the last year’s plan there is no need to pull all that info from memory.

If you have perennial or ornamental gardens, now is a great time to delicately check any evergreen or hardy plants for winter damage and or early emerging pests that need to be addressed. I also remove any heavy topical debris in the garden bed, like small tree limbs, stones etc., exercising care not to disturb the mulch ground cover too much. I will never forget one of my very early gardening experiences of cleaning up too deep, too early and unintentionally digging up a slumbering garden toad.

I also remove any undesirable opportunistic plants that have self-seeded in my garden beds.

The final to-do on my February list is to send out a soil test from my garden beds. I believe it puts the gardener at an advantage to grow happy, strong plants, knowing what the soil consists of and amending as needed. If you are interested in a soil test for your garden contact your local cooperative extension office for more information.                                      

Dawn Conrad lives in Victoria and is a nature loving fancy girl “living the dream” in her Virginia gardens. Her email address is