Early spring at the homestead

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All signs point to an early spring here, and I’ve been oscillating a bit between elation at all the signs of life and anxiety about the season putting me behind before we even get started.

But there really are so many exciting signs of life around here right now. The first brilliant tiny leaves on the Japanese maple. Buds swelling on all the trees, including the basket willow cuttings I planted back in January. (It looks like 3 out of 4 varieties took, which I’m thrilled with.) And all the fruit trees in the orchard, which have been getting all sorts of attention these past few weeks.

It really sunk in for me this year that the ideal time for orchard maintenance is very early spring, before the garden is ready to be worked. Trees pruned, mulch added, weeds pulled, it’s all work that can be done now. We’ve given it a good once-over and I was all set to shift gears to focus on thinning alders and chipping them into mulch. I was super proud that I got the chipper running without any help from Dean. And then about six branches in, everything ground to a very abrupt halt. It doesn’t look good. In fact, it looks like the part that holds the whole blade assembly in place rusted through. I’m trying not to freak out about my plans! for chipping the mulch! now!

The most exciting picture for me is the last one, which shows the foundation of my new herb garden. I have thought for years that it would be magical to build a garden around that rock in our yard and I couldn’t wait any longer to make it happen. Maybe the most satisfying part has been how it has come together with things we hardly noticed we had around – borders from the alders that were never bucked into firewood, mulch from last summer’s straw bale archery targets, compost still waiting to be shoveled from our cabin days. Those piles will get spread soon, and topped with soil. I’ve also uncovered a surprising amount of stray concrete hidden away around our yard that I’m hoping will become a couple key walkways. And then of course, there’s all the very important research to decide just what will get planted in that new space. Right now, the trickiest bit seems to be guessing just how much will fit. It’s not a small garden, but neither are many of the herbs I want to grow, lots of perennials that will hopefully settle in and need some elbow room.

And nettles! The first delicious amazing taste of green! Perhaps another batch of nettle pesto to get me through those garden catalogs and herb books…