March 16, 2010

Chores for an Early Spring Day

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, that even though I'd planned to work in the studio in the afternoon, I couldn't stand the thought of being indoors at all, so spent time doing lots of garden chores. In the morning, after doing some apple tree pruning, I dug parsnips. Parsnips need a long growth season––they are planted in mid May––and have their best flavor if left in the ground over the winter, to be dug when the ground thaws in spring. They don't look pretty, but sure taste good; I love them simply cut up, tossed with some olive oil, and roasted until slightly browned. It's like eating spring candy.

This is the very vigorous honeysuckle vine next to the front door. A few years ago, the plant began to look sickly, with poorly formed leaves and damaged flowers, so I cut some of it back. Surprising to me, the haircut seemed to revive growth. So now, each year in early spring I cut the vine back hard, which encourages strong new growth. You can also see a climbing rose alongside the honeysuckle.

I like to leave the flower heads of Annabelle hydrangea for a decorative note during winter, cutting the canes back to the ground in spring. Some people don't cut this plant back, but then the flower heads are smaller. By doing this small job now, I ensure enormous flower heads in summer.

It's been so dry in late winter and early spring, that the vegetable garden is quite dry. There are some years when I have to wait until mid April for the wet earth to dry enough to work in the garden, but not this year. So I decided to get out the wheel hoe and make a pass across the entire garden in order to disturb the weeds that are already happily growing. I love seeing the expanse of soil at this time of year, with only some cutting tulips beginning to emerge, and a row of hay covered garlic.

I mid afternoon, I moved the porch rockers from their winter home indoors to the little porch, where I sat basking in the full sun, rocking and reading. A perfect day.


  1. My day was a duplicate of yours yesterday. So nice to get outside and play in the yard. It's spring!....finally!

  2. Sounds heavenly, Altoon. I spent the day in the National Gallery here in Washington, which is hard to beat--but I can't wait to be back in Vermont with a pruning shears in my hand.

  3. Wish I were sharing those parsnips with you! Ironically, my garden is on the sidewalk in full shade where dogs pee, so no veggies. Your wheel hoe photo is so wonderful I am projecting myself into it. Thanks.

  4. We're all enjoying spring, wherever we are. I guess it's too early for the cherry blossoms in D.C.

    Glad you like the wheel hoe photo, Julie; I think there's something wonderfully traditional about that tool, even though it's a modern version. I don't like to rototill my garden in spring because the soil would get too dry, so I use the wheel hoe.

  5. The promise of spring comes with that fresh smell in the air. I've opened all my windows to air out the house.
    Pretty soon the bulbs will start popping up their heads; if they haven't rotted from all the rain we've been having. I wish we could send some of it up to you in Vermont.