Best of
 Wild Things…
Mid-Winter Chores
By Karen Vizzi

     As patches of green begin to poke through receding snow, the gardener’s soul begins to stir. But spring is still a long way off!
    When the flurry of activity begins in spring, time becomes a precious commodity for most gardeners. A little chaos in the wild garden is a good thing, but a disorganized wild gardener is not. If you spend some time on these chores now, you’ll be very happy when the first warm breeze begs you to come outside.

*  Take an inventory of your seed starting supplies. Do you have enough pots? Sterile potting mix? Labels? 

*  Take a look at the condition of your pots. Discard the ones that do not drain well or are damaged. In a mild bleach and water solution, rinse pots that you plan on using to start seeds. This will eliminate harmful bacteria and mold spores that can wreak havoc on newly sprouted seeds.

*  If you use grow lights, it’s a good idea to replace the bulbs each year. I find that plain fluorescent tubes are just as effective as expensive “Gro” lights.

*   It’s also a great time to do some maintenance on garden tools. Dull blades can cause damage to plant tissue, not to mention damage to hands and fingers. Ragged cuts make plants more susceptible to disease and insect damage. Remove rust and dirt from spades, shovels and rakes with steel wool. You can sharpen the edges of these tools, as well as lawnmower blades, with a metal file. Lawns tend to suffer the most from dull blades. For smaller tools, such as garden shears and pruners, use a whetstone, but be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Finish up with a little oil on the hinges and you are ready for early spring pruning.

*  Don’t forget to keep bird feeders cleaned and filled. Birds that are finding shelter and food now will be more likely to stay and raise their young when the time comes.

*  Dig out the garden map you made last fall and gather all the seed catalogs that have been filtering in. Set aside an afternoon to make thoughtful and rational decisions about your order. Well… maybe just thoughtful. In the wild garden, rational is not always realistic.

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