Let’s Talk Trash: Plan Early for Spring

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Preparing your planned flowers, greens, fruits and vegetables now can lay the foundation for a bountiful harvest.

The sun slipping through the clouds on those sleepy winter days reminds us that spring is inevitably on the horizon. Preparing your planned flowers, greens, fruits and vegetables now can lay the groundwork for a bountiful harvest.

Fruit trees are almost self-perpetuating, but a good haircut will ensure the kind of growth you are looking for. Arborists encourage pruning upward shoots and crossing branches. The trees are still asleep and happy with a healthy cut right now.

Even with a snow forecast, we can start skimming the cardboard to remove the weeds that are sure to come. Box stores often have cardboard recycling bins they provide access to and you can spend the darkest evenings removing tape and staples to get them ready for use.

Lining the carton with a thick mulch of chipped leaves or branches is an effective way to avoid pulling weeds throughout the season. It’s also a great way to avoid using plastic to kill and prevent unwanted plant growth. Plastic, which inevitably breaks down in the elements, becomes embedded in your soil.

To improve the fertility of your garden, you may also want to start thinking about where you are going to source your compost. Besides local nurseries, you can strike up a conversation with a neighbor who does home composting, but doesn’t garden. A few vegetables on their doorstep will be a fitting thank you.

A seasonally appropriate harvest of seaweed in measured quantities is also a local resource that can add beneficial micronutrients to your garden. Any unraked leaves in the corners of lawns are also good to pick up at any time.

Garden tools are necessary in the spring, but you may have a few with broken handles or loose tools. Handles can often be replaced and tool life can be extended with a little care every year.

You can also think about sharing tools and equipment with your family and neighbors. Not everyone needs a riding mower, but a few people on your street can share one while sharing maintenance responsibilities. You can find used rakes and shovels by finding ones you’ve overlooked in friends’ garages or for sale at thrift stores.

Now is a great time to start considering bed design, vegetable garden rotations and seed stock assessment. Tapping into your community’s seed bank by getting together and swapping seeds with friends is a great way to save money while sharing gardening tips. Bulk orders for seeds that grow well on the West Coast can also be placed now before the spring rush by shaking green thumbs.

Once you have your seeds and plans in place, enthusiasts may want to grow up to four weeks before the last frost to get a healthy start before the spring thaw. Investing in a heated mat is an idea, as is using heated floor tiles, if you are lucky enough to have them.

You don’t have to grow alone either. Maybe a friend has a grow light they would gladly share the space under. Without these tools, starting seeds a few weeks early can be done indoors through sunny windows, although these can tend to get “long” as they stretch to More light. A simple outdoor greenhouse can do the trick instead.

No matter how green your visions are for spring, they can start coming true now with a little early planning.

Let’s Talk Trash is Qathet Regional District’s waste reduction education program. For more information send an e-mail [email protected].

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