Field of Science

Spring bits and pieces

Here's some bits and pieces that have popped up along with the spring flowers. First, remember when planting new trees and shrubs, especially those that have been grown in plastic pots, to tease out pot bound roots. A large blunt screw driver or a large plastic tent stake work effectively to dislodge and tease out pot bound roots before planting. Teasing out roots is rather like combing out tangled hair or like getting a lump of chewing gum out of the coat of a Maine coon cat. The cat doesn't chew gum, and the child had no idea how such a thing could happen, but some local anesthetic was needed, in this case a couple of sardines. When a cat's nose & mouth are so occupied they notice little else.  So if  you want successful transplants you would do well to untangle root balls. 
Second, now is the time to plant early kitchen garden crops. Broccoli, spinach, lettuces, and the like, do very well in cool weather especially under a floating row cover. To maximize yield with minimal space use some interplantings. TPP's best such trick is to plant broccoli at about 18" spacing, and then interplant with bibb or romaine lettuce seedlings. The lettuce will mature and be ready to harvest before the broccoli would crowd it. 
Third, this is the time of year to prune things. Sorry TPP can easily show you how to prune, but it's hard to describe, hard to use hard fast rules because trees and shrubs vary. It's so easy when you know how woody plants grow but so hard to transfer that knowledge verbally. 
Fourth, nothing says spring as much as woodland wildflowers, perennial ephemerals that grow fast, flower, and fruit before the leaves above close the canopy. Our earliest are liverwort, trilliums, and bloodroot. Nothing is more cheerful than finding these small plants poking up through the leaf litter. If you have a shady, tree-covered portion of your property, then this is one of the easiest of all natural gardens to develop.

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