Cam Flaherty, here. It’s New England, it’s April, and the ground is still half frozen. You didn’t get the peas planted on St. Patrick’s Day and you can’t for a while yet. Working wet soil destroys its natural structure and turns it to a brick when it dries.
What can you do to soothe those itchy impatient gardening fingers? Get everything ready. I’m thinking you might not have done this in the dark cold of last November, so pick a sunny spring day and get to work.
Head out to the garden shed or garage with a rag and a bit of old motor oil or vegetable oil. Wipe the dried soil off all the tools: trowel, shovel, pitchfork, hoe, whatever you have. Rub them with oil, both wooden handles and metal parts. This is also a good time to sharpen edges. Hone the digging end of the shovel, the edge of the hoe. Take a file to the tips of the tines (and try not to dwell on it being a murder weapon – just because it happened on my farm doesn’t mean it will kill someone in your garden!).
Make sure you can find your gardening gloves and that they don’t have holes in the fingers. Tidy up your shelf of string, scissors, hammer, and other incidental garden supplies. See if you need to replace any stakes or tomato cages.
The weather WILL warm up one of these days, the soil will dry out, and you’ll get to dirty those eager fingers. Stay tuned next week for a discussion of poisons lurking in your garden.
What are you eager to plant? If you don’t garden, what kind of locally grown produce can you not wait to sample from your local farm stand?
Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods mystery series from Kensington Publishing, in which geek-turned-organic farmer Cam Flaherty grows produce even in the winter for members of the Locavore club, but also has to solve more than one case of locally sourced murder.