Back to Back Issues Page
Slow Down and Start Living
February 27, 2012

Once again, you have shown that you are the best readers around.

I wasn't looking for sympathy last week, yet you gave it.

I was simply reminding you the importance of slowing down and living.

Many of you appreciated the reminder.

(One of my Amaryllis currently in bloom.)

Say Good-by to February, and Hello to March.

Thursday marks the beginning of a new month and the unofficial countdown to Spring.

Spring may already be here for some of our southern ans west coast friends.

For some of us, spring may be here in our minds.

For most of us, we know that the first day of spring is relative.

Just a name for a certain date of the year.

No matter, let the countdown begin.

Daylight continue to grow longer and a few more clear and star filled night skies, are a couple of pre spring signs I look forward to.

I'll finally will get to planting some seeds over the next few weeks, with plans flowers and veggies being my reward.

I know some of have been planting since the first of the year, I'm not that ambitious anymore.

Red-winged blackbirds continue to show in my yard and at the

I've seen robins off and on, but I suspect they never left (it happens many winters around here).

For the first time in almost a year, Turkeys came to visit as well.

Two young Tom's stopped by for a quick feed (pictured below).

Life in suburbia.

Chives are close to an inch tall, if the weather doesn't get too cold from here on out, I'll enjoy fresh chives before I know it.

So goofy has this winter been, that Cilantro (an annual) never died off and may give me some early taste as well.

Once again, close to eight inches or so of wet snow on Friday, and pretty much gone by Monday.

We have yet to have that true cold spell this winter.

I am posting a couple new winter pictures.

Chickadee and Chickadee-feeder, Snow on a tree branch, and some snow covered swtchgrass in my yard.

With spring just around the corner, it is time to think 'Spring Training'.

Spring Training has become a bit of a tradition with me and this newsletter.

While many readers are wily veterans, Rookies and hopefuls are here as well.

Rookies and hopeful gardeners need coaching and practice more than veterans, but the smart veteran knows their is always more to learn to get better.

Whether it is more prep work and conditioning or willing to be coached.

Much is the same for Gardeners of any experience level, no matter your style of gardening.

Spring Training for Gardening starts now.


Spring Training:

I like using that metaphor for gardening this time of year.

Why not, it works.

"Spring Training." means Baseball can't be far off.

The Boys of Summer conditioning and preparing themselves for the long season ahead.

A six month season.

Seven if your team makes it to the
play-offs and World Series.

For some of you, Gardening season may be just as long or longer.

For others, it may be a four, five or six month season.

High performance, professional athletes head to warm spots to loosen and train muscles for the long season ahead of them.

Visit the team trianer, whirlpools, messages, Nothing but the best.

Spring training is a time for ball players to sharpen their skills.

This also holds true for you and me, but I don't think you have a trainer.

I know I don't.

The average guy or gal................

The weekend warrior, or in this case, the Hobby Gardener or Nature Enthusiast.

Yes, we need a spring training too.

You and I need to get into game day shape.

We need to stretch and strengthen our muscles.

We need to limber up, yet not over do it.

Especially the first few times out in your yard and garden.

You've been there haven't you?

You did to much and re-discovered muscles you forgot you had.

A strained or pulled muscle.

Sore joints.

Getting out of bed the next morning when your body is screaming at you.

I played a lot of sports when I was younger.

I thought I was in pretty good shape at the time, but after that first day of practice......

There were those muscles I forgot about.

We use our joints and muscles everyday, but when we use them in a different motion, movement or tension, that's all it takes to set you back a few days.

Especially repeating the motion over and over again.

I'm not getting any younger so I must learn to slow down and learn to condition my body for the long season.

Now, as you and I get more youth challenged, it is more difficult to get into playing or in this case, gardening shape.

Take it easy and don't rush things.

Do things in moderation.

Work yourself into gardening shape.

Not many people can hit a ball over 400 feet or throw one 100 miles per hour.

Still, you have skills that need to be honed.

This is good advice, not only for you physically, but wise advice for your lawns and gardens as well.

Lay off the plant food right out of the gate.

Don't be in such a big hurry to walk around and dig, especially if your soil is wet.

Take some time now to go over your tools.

Geve your power tools a good tune up, so they run at peak efficiency (their spring training).

Break out the WD40.

Lube up your joints, er I mean lube up your tools.

Put a nice shine on things.

Sand down any splinters that may slow you down.

Take inventory.

Is everything in working order or need of repair?

Is everything there?

Did you loan something out and didn't get it back?

Maybe get your lawn mower in tip top shape.

A dull blade will tear, not cut your grass.

Damaged grass blades are an
invitation to fungus (air borne and all around us).

Torn grass blades take longer to heal over, a sharp blade makes a nice cut that heals over faster.

Don't forget to change filters, plugs and oil.

If you have a push reel mower, make sure to lube all the working parts to make for easy pushing.

Here is another reason to go slow.

If your soil is wet or damp, stay off and please don't dig in it.

You make that decision to get a jump on our gardening and work in damp soil.

Big Mistake.

Damp soil compacts when we walk and play in it.

There is all sorts of techinal mumbo-jumbo I will not bore you with right now, just know to stay off.

Compact soil cannot hold oxygen that is needed for plant roots to breathe.

Compact soil results in shallow and poor root growth.

Root growth required to carry food, water and yes oxygen.

Damp, Compact soil can also result in root rot and other problems.

What you need to do is wait for the soil to dry out some.

If you can take a handful of dirt, squeeze it and have it crumble in your hand, it is dry enough to work.

If your handful of dirt remains in a clump, put it back and walk away.

As your soil dries, you can shovel and fluff it up (lots of air pockets for oxygen and water).

Experienced gardeners will do this in the fall.

Another advantage living in Michigan............

Most winters the ground is frozen and I don't have to worry about that soil just yet.

I only have to work on the honey do list (painting and stuff for now).

(Shag Bark Hickory)

Weather changes happen fast this time of year, but remember,

The calendar says it is still winter.

Time to get into playing shape

I'm practicing patience and getting my timing down.

Maybe I'll work the pitcher for a walk or settle for a base hit.

More games are won with walks and base hits than they are with home runs.

Home runs get the headlines, but the little things you do win the game or in this case give you the winning edge.

The same goes for our gardens.

The Big Splash of Color or Harvest get the Headlines (Turn heads, etc.).

But, it is the careful preparation, the methodical time spent this time of year that creates the Big Splash later on.

Spring Training:

Be sure to start slow and take care of yourself and your habitats.

Limber up and stretch.

Be sure you have the proper gear and attitude.

Baseball season is a marothon, not a sprint.

Gardening is a long season as well.

Make sure you are there to enjoy the first pitch, or should I say flower, butterfly or hummingbird.

And make sure you are still going strong after the blooms have faded, the last fruit has been picked, the last Monarch has flitted by and your hummingbirds have left once again.

Spring training helps us physically and mentally to go the long haul.

Not to many things beat preperation, even when it comes to gardening.

One last reminder.......

"Gardening for Wildlife" is easier and less costly than conventional gardening. It is also much more enjoyable.

Well,, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“No matter what a person's past may have been, his future is spotless.”

Author unknown

Do you want a spotless future?

"I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king."

Daniel 2:23

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Hebrews 8:12

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page