NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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March 20, 2013

Firm up garden plans for the new season

For many gardening enthusiasts, this time around late winter and early spring requires a lot of self-control. We’ve been cooped up for months, unable to get our hands in the dirt, while attempting to appease our earthly desires through gardening catalogs, flower shows and plenty of daydreaming. By now, we’ve just about had it with ideas, and it’s time to put them into action. But for many, those moments are short-lived. Before we can garner any real momentum, Mother Nature reminds us that she’s still in control by following up those warm weather samplings with cold snaps in quick succession.

With self-restraint made possible only through years of feeling the painful consequences of my impulsive desire to beat the system, I wait a little longer. So what’s in store for my garden this season? With a new, five-acre property before me, I am giddy with anticipation. Our frost-free date is still over a month away, but there is plenty to do before then and even more beyond that.

For now, it’s all about the site prep, as it should be for any gardener or weekend warrior who desires to create the best environment for long-term success. As long as the ground isn’t frozen or saturated, it’s the perfect time to cultivate and clean up. Preparation of the planting beds and future lawn area reigns supreme for this property over the next few weeks. Weeding, contouring and a generous layer of topsoil worked lightly into the earth should serve my future plants and seedbed well. For the beds waiting to receive plants, I’ll top them off with several inches of mulch, as a green way to suppress weeds and prevent otherwise exposed soil from crusting over. Once my plants are in the ground, that same mulch will suppress certain plant diseases, keep roots cool and retain vital moisture in the soil.

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