A Solid Garden Workday!

18 Mar

Thanks to everyone who came out to help prep the garden!  It was nice to see so many CVers come out despite the chilly weather.  About 16 souls braved the cold and helped to:

  1. Amend some soil, turn under the cover crops, and till and blend soil in three raised beds.
  2. Plant sugar snap peas, snow peas, and shelling peas along with hardy greens.
  3. Broke in the brand new kid-sized watering cans (which match the orange metal ones)
  4. Prep new planters for sunflowers.
  5. Prune herbs as well as some perennial pollinator-friendly plants.
  6. Marvel at the (potential) pupa/ chrysalis discovered on the milkweed.

Why start planting so early in the season?  Nature is preparing for spring renewal despite the low temps.  Read below a newsletter from Edible Schoolyard NYC’s Mirem for more context on early spring gardening.

Mirem’s Weekly Garden Tips: Mar 17

Hello fellow school gardeners,
Four weeks to last frost! Hard to believe given the weather, but in fact
this Tuesday (the 20th) is the March equinox . Longer days cue
growth for many temperate plants, regardless of temperature: you’ll notice
early-spring bulbs like crocuses, Siberian iris and snowdrops in bloom, and
daffodils making leaves like crazy in preparation for blooming next month.
Leaf buds are forming on trees and shrubs. Raspberries and roses are
starting to make actual leaves.

This is your last chance to prune woody herbs, shrubs and trees before the
all-out explosion of spring growth. Once the sap rises and leaves unfurl,
branches are more vulnerable and will have a harder time healing properly
from pruning cuts. I’ve attached a good article on pruning for further
reading. No time for reading? Head out to the garden and *do the bare
essentials of pruning:*

-Cut back any obviously dead branches (grey color, dry, no green visible
in the cross section)
-Remove any branches or stems that pose a hazard, for example eye-level
branches across a path
-Remove or cut back any branches that are in the way for any reason
-Remove branches that cross or rub against others (just keep the one you
prefer)
-Cut back very vigorous cane fruit and shrubs to keep them under control
-Trim back bare or leggy stems of thyme, rosemary, lavender, sage,
marjoram, mint, etc.
-Use regular pruning shears for small branches and stems. For bigger
branches, use loppers if you have them – the larger sizes can handle
diameters up to an inch and a half (at Edible Schoolyard NYC, we call them
“Cyndi Loppers”). When you make a cut on a branch that is any bigger than
an inch and a half, use a pruning saw. Make a shallow cut on the underside
of the branch, then cut through from the top – that prevents the bark from
stripping off when the branch breaks off. Don’t cut flush to the trunk,
leave the joint attached to the trunk to speed healing.
 
*What to do with the trimmings and prunings?*  New York City picks up neatly bundled woody material as long as you follow Department of Sanitation guidelines

  • Save long, straight branches for staking perennials;
  • Chop up small branches and use to mulch established trees, making sure
    the pieces are less than 6″ long and are in contact with the soil, so they
    can be broken down by fungi;
  • Add chopped trimmings and prunings to your compost, if you have room;
  • Use for firewood, after a thorough, slow drying;
  • Finally, there is an interesting but not particularly urban-friendly
    technique called hugelkultur  that  uses woody material as the bottom layer of a planting mound or hill. Let me  know if you try this 🙂
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2 Responses to “A Solid Garden Workday!”

  1. Sophia Hildegard Wong March 19, 2018 at 7:56 AM #

    I’m a bit confused. Are you asking CV residents to head to the play garden and do some actual pruning of the shrubs there? Looks like the Edible Schoolyard newsletter excerpt is intended for members of that school. Asking because I do have some garden shears and am itching to get pruning somewhere…

    • alternahealthgrrrl March 20, 2018 at 4:31 PM #

      No, I meant it for inspiration and explanation as to why we are doing these things now. How big are your shears? In the past we’ve had to use a saw on the butterfly bush…

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