Salisbury, MD. Yes, indeed, it is the wise gardener who goes into spring training this time of year. While baseball may be the first thing to come to mind when someone says, "spring training", it is equally important for gardeners.
The first day of spring is still nearly four weeks away, but Friday's seventy degree teaser left most of the Gardening Grannies ever more hopeful that the majority of the Prognosticating Groundhogs were correct when they predicted an early spring. Then came the shock of today ( freezing temps) and tonight (rain to sleet to snow, depending where on the Peninsula you live). Ah! The joys of late winter on Delmarva ….you just never know what you are going to get next.
No matter. The time is now to get ready for spring. The Gardening Grannies have a four-step program to get you ready:
#1) Start those stretching exercises now! Remember last spring when, after the first warm weekend working in the yard, you woke up on Monday morning thinking you were going to die? Everything hurt …. especially when you tried to move? A regular program of daily stretching exercises is an excellent way to reduce the likelihood of a repeat this year. You can get stretching exercises from an exercise book or magazine or you can get a video. Most of the Gardening Grannies got theirs years ago courtesy of their chiropractors. Those folks really know how to watch your backs (pardon the pun)! We suggest, if you don't have a chiropractor of your own, ask someone who does to request a one-pager of stretching exercises. Even better news is that, if "Chiro Guy" gives you specific exercises and you stick with them even when the effected parts no longer cause you pain, you may not need a chiropractor so much, if at all.
#2) Check your supply of tick and mosquito repellant. We all know that the first rule of survival is preparation and that is a 100% necessity in the case of ticks. Ticks aren't just found in the woods; they also lurk in tall grass and a myriad of other places. Delaware has the second highest percentage of ticks that test positive for Lyme Disease (80%) and Maryland isn't far behind (especially Caroline County). Just because you are bitten by a tick doesn't mean you will get Lyme disease, but it does mean you should take precautions. The first step is avoidance. That doesn't mean no more gardening but it does mean "Deep Woods Off" or some other tick repellant of your choice. Granny Griffith sprays her red LL Bean wellies with off and traipses around her back yard (mostly woods) with nary a problem. What the neighbors may say is an entirely different matter. However you choose to protect yourself while outdoors, we encourage you to check yourself carefully when you come in to shower to be certain none of those rascals have somehow hitched a ride on you or your clothing. Should you actually have a tick attach itself to you, be certain to remove the entire tick, clean the site, apply antiseptic and, without waiting for symptoms to develop, ask your doctor if you should receive a 3-day treatment of antibiotics. If you know someone who was unfortunate enough to contract Lyme Disease or one of the other tick borne illnesses, you will need no further encouragement from us.
#3) Check your gardening tools. Now is the time to consider replacing some of those tools with split wooden handles or trowels with bent tips (perhaps you've used one to pry open a paint can?). Baker Creek carries a nice collection of a half dozen or so of hand tools that look like those your grandparents used to own. On the opposite end of the spectrum, perhaps it's time to treat yourself to some of those ergonomically designed hand tools. Of those hand tools that are salvageable, it's time to sand off the rust, oil the wooden handles and generally do a clean-up. Last year, Granny Griffith took a broken hard-toothed rake, threw out the handle and nailed the rake head to the back of her potting shed. She hangs a variety of hand tools from it (just out of reach of the gran-babies), so they would be handy….and visible!
#4) Go buy yourself something nice! Whoever said you had to garden in clothes that made you look like you were a wretched escapee from a refugee camp? You don't have to go to the other extreme of matching gloves and garden clogs, but respectable gardening outfits are a nice reward for all the hard work you will be putting in this summer. Yet another reason to smile!
The Gardening Grannies are a group of mature and Master Gardeners who live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula. To contact them with your thoughts, questions and ideas, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.