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Hare moon garden


Just quiet down, and you’ll hear new life rumbling in its birth pangs. Daffodil tips green up, stretching for warming sun. Roots swell with moisture below. Flora, goddess of flowers and spring, is refreshing the cycle of growth.

April foolishness abounds, with anxious gardeners thrusting petunias and pansies too early into soil. I recall puddles of cosmos and tomato seedlings I’d thought could withstand cool nights. Springtime is set in motion. The tide of spring rolls northward at a pace of roughly 15 miles per day. Mark Twain wrote, “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

I venture into the vegetable garden happy to feel sunshine warming my shoulder. First, I bring out dead plant material and put it on the compost pile. Then I begin cultivating beds to a depth of 12 inches, which plants like for easy rooting. I mix in aged compost to condition the soil. New plots, created last fall, are in need of thickening with manure and shredded leaves. Early weeding will save a lot of work later on. Now is the time to fertilize spring-flowering bulbs. When new growth emerges a few inches, feed perennials. You can ready stakes for dahlias and poles for beans. During foggy conditions, put a saucer of ammonia in a cold frame to prevent spread of mold.

Carrots, spinach, beets and radishes can be seeded, following the rule to plant thick and thin quick. When these leaf out I’ll make another planting. The same holds true for corms of gladioli, which I liberally pepper throughout the veggie patch; they offer so much for so little effort. Hardened-off cabbage and broccoli seedlings can be put in the ground now. Potatoes can be set out to get a good start before hot weather. I’ll plant seeds of a couple of colorful gourds for fall decoration.

On a slope at my stone wall, a long flower border offsets a need for power mowing. I clear some grass with a hand whip in front of my roadside garden. When I must use the mower, I sharpen the blades with a flat file. This prevents ragged browning of grass tips, and the spread of fungal disease. I’m reducing lawn cover, in favor of diverse plantings, with a mind toward ecological gardening. Many gardeners are growing more vegetables in response to the financial crunch. As in any enterprise, taking the initial steps is the toughest. I encourage nascent gardeners to attempt growing their own food. The volume of your harvest will surprise you. It’s often said that nothing can match the flavor of a homegrown tomato. Mirabei Osler wrote, “At the heart of gardening there is a belief in the miraculous.”

Easter’s feast of ovaries arrives mid-month. Sightings of hares, bounding in ebullient spurts, led ancestral planters to recognize the time for seeding crops. The ancients believed the shape of a hare could be seen in the moon. Both are symbolically related to eggs, and are signs of fertility. Gardeners revive their rituals as Eros rises to the light of the changing season.

“As the Garden grows, so shall the gardener.”

— Proverb


April 30, 2009
Funding available for agricultural conservation
March 12, 2009
Food producers invited to enroll in Pure Catskills Guide


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Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Walking on the wild side
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Rivertalk by Tina Spangler: On the lookout for Sharpies
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Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Hare moon garden
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Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Harbingers of spring
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Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Beavers, burls and more
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The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: Reading, writing and tying
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Rivertalk by Scott Rando: In like a lion, out like a lamb
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Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Ice is (still) nice
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Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Wind moon garden
News & columns provided by The River Reporter