There were times during the Unrelenting Winter when I doubted the whole idea of spring. I feared spring would never return, but it has returned and it's the dawn of a new season in the garden.
Each morning I don my red rubber boots and wander the garden looking for signs of life and new growth. What I find is the crocuses in bloom, the first tentative sprouts in the raspberry patch, and that the josta berry and currants are the first to leaf-out. In the perennial beds the irises, the tulips, and the native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) have resurfaced. The garlic I planted last October grows by leaps and bounds, and the spring rain falls by the bucket full.
Spring can be a busy time in the garden preparing for the growing season ahead. In the perennial beds it's time to cut back the old growth from last year. I employ a chop-and-drop method, leaving the pruned material to lie as a fresh layer of mulch.
One of my favorite chores in the spring is working the compost pile. I contribute kitchen scraps and coffee grounds to my compost heap all winter long, but temperatures are too cold for much decomposition to happen. Giving the compost a good turning early in spring, as the temperatures warm, gives the pile a jump start. With favorable conditions and a little luck I'll have usable compost ready when I start planting.
Here in Minneapolis our average last frost date is May 15th, which means it's still too early to plant much. The exception is the large galvanized steel containers I keep on the patio. The soil in these containers is ready to be worked and I have sown them with the seeds of a few cold tolerant crops, mostly spinach and kale. It's a start.
I have a lot planned for the forest garden this year; adding more fruit trees and shrubs, planting many more pollinator-friendly perennials, a seed saving project with several varieties of dry beans, and experiments with no-dig beds. I will be posting frequent updates so stay tuned. And as always feel free to share in the comments.