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March 05, 2018
The first full week of March, can Spring be far off?
60 degrees one day, snow the next.
Well not much here, but south and southeast of here had a good dose or reality.
Snowstorms, rain and floods.
Our prayers continue.
March, and to a degree April
Still, take advantage of the nice days by taking a walk, getting some fresh air, hang out the laundry if you can.
Our friends in the south are getting gardens ready, and possibly planting.
The first of the month is always a good time to give feeders and water sources a good deep cleaning, and sanitizing.
Especially now, as you probably notice fewer birds at your feeders right now (for the most part).
Sandhill cranes have been spotted as they migrate north.
I hear the .. Woodcocks at night as they fly around in search of a mate.
Robins are now back in full force,
(Sophie, being Sophie.)
As is the case with most migrating birds, the males arrive about two weeks before the females.
At the bottom there are a couple of pictures of a squirrel collecting leaves for her nest.
She grabs a mouthful and scurries up one the the Norway Spruces in the back.
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 the 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.
I like using that metaphor for gardening this time of year.
Why not, it works.
"Spring Training." also means Baseball can't be far off.
The Boys of Summer are 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.
Here in Michigan, we don't have to worry about the Detroit Tigers getting to the post season (for years to come).
For some of you, Gardening season may be just as long or longer.
For others, it may be a three, 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 trainer, 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.
Shoot, these days I have to stretch some just to start the day, any day.
You've been there haven't you?
You did to much and re-discovered muscles you forgot you had.
A strained or pulled muscle.
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.
The same goes for yard work.
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 baseball 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 and mentally, 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'. or other lubricant.
Lube up your joints, er I mean lube up your tools.
Put a nice shine on things.
Sand down any splinters on any handles that may slow you down.
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.
Damp soil compacts when we walk and play in it.
There is all sorts of technical 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.
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.
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 and gardening seasons are marathons, not a sprint.
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 preparation, 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.
"Don’t make exercise a half-hearted endeavor!
Set goals, create a plan, and then execute it.
Don’t be afraid to pray".
Mind, body, and spirit.
"For while bodily training is of some value,
Godliness is of value in every way,
As it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come".
1 Timothy 4:8
"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,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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