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Posted 4/19/2011 2:55pm by Kate Sparks .
Despite the cool weather this morning I was out harvesting the last of the daffodils and the first tulips, bleeding hearts, silver bells, lilies, spirea and azaleas.  It looks like more dutch iris will be blooming in time for the Easter markets this Sat. and if I'm lucky some delphinium and ranunculus too.  The yellow and purple pansies are blooming nicely in their terra cotta tea cups.  I just checked the weather for this weekend.  It looks like it's going to rain on market day.  Too bad, I plan to be there anyway, wearing a smile and a raincoat! Come out to the market and support your hard working local farmers.  Easter dinner will taste even better with fresh, local produce, freshly baked bread and beautiful flowers on the table.  
Yesterday the interns and I had great fun spreading rabbit manure on the shrubs.  What a treat, for the hydrangea, not the humans. We pinched our noses and imagined the gorgeous blue, pink, green and white flowers which will be our reward this summer. Rabbit manure is a great fertilizer, despite the smell,  and I'm very lucky to have two free, local sources.  If anybody knows where I can get some spent hops from a brewery please contact me.  I can pick it up.

 I'm eager to get started tilling and preparing beds for all the wonderful annuals that will be blooming this summer but all this rain is keeping me out of the fields.  Working soil that is too wet, especially the clay I have,  causes the soil to lose its structure. The soil will pack tightly, leaving less room for water and  air to penetrate. This compression forms tight clumps of soil that become clay bricks  when dry and is very  difficult to remedy . This is called compacted soil. I  try to avoid compacting the soil as compacted soil is very difficult to work.  Roots find it hard to penetrate as do gardening tools and equipment. Water absorption is greatly reduced so compacted areas will easily become a wet hole in subsequent seasons making for an even later tilling date.

To remedy this situation I will be  tilling in large amounts of compost  and planting cover crops.  This will help break up any compacted layers of soil. A crop with a long taproot such as sweet clover is  best. Of course the best plan of action is to avoid tilling until the ground is dry enough to work.  Waiting is difficult, especially after such a miserable winter, but it will pay off in the long run with beautiful, workable soil.

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