Press-Republican

Columns

April 1, 2013

Avoid early gardening pitfalls

I celebrated the first day of spring by building a snowman on our barbecue after clearing a path through the snow on the patio. 

Now it’s beginning to look like spring may have finally reached the North Country. While we wait for the temperatures that herald the beginning of the growing season, you may want to keep a few things in mind.

I know how difficult it can be after several warm days to keep yourself from going out with a shovel, rake, hoe and every other tool you have. We are eager to be outdoors working in our flower beds or starting to prepare the soil for our vegetable gardens.

We have been inside for several months now, and although you may be ready to get your garden started, your garden is probably not. There are a few things you want to avoid in your enthusiasm to get your hands dirty.

DON’T WALK ON SOIL

You don’t want to work your soil while it is too wet and you don’t want to walk on it, either. Wet soil compacts when we walk on it, similar to the way snow does. Compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to grow through or water to drain.

To check the moisture level, take a ball of soil about the size of a walnut in the palm of your hand and squeeze it. If moisture drips or it’s a mud ball, it’s too wet to work, but if the soil holds together rub your thumb over it and see how it crumbles. It should come apart and look like the crumbs of chocolate cake. Soggy soil leads to rotting roots and seeds.

If you must walk on your soil, lay a piece of plywood or even heavy cardboard down to help distribute your weight. Avoid walking on your lawn for the same reason. You want the roots of your lawn, your perennials, shrubs and trees to get a good start on the season as they wake up to spring.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time