Here we are well into March, and the unpredictable weather gives us a little hope on one day when it hits the 40s, while the cold winds and rain and the threat of snow discourage us on the next.
But there are tasks that can be accomplished if we seize the moment. Indoor cooking and cleaning can be saved for the less pleasant days, while gardening has to happen when the weather cooperates.
After all the rain this month, shrubs and trees should be in good shape. If you need to transplant shrubs, either new ones or one that needs to find a new home, this is a good time.
If the ground is workable, and buds have not yet swelled or opened, get started. Dig the new hole first, and pile the soil you remove to the side. When you dig out the shrub, take great care not to hurt the root ball because damaged roots certainly will inhibit new growth.
It is a good idea to trim back some of the top growth at this time.
Then, plant the shrub and fill the hole with the soil you reserved to the level of the surrounding soil, and water thoroughly. A shallow trench around the stem will concentrate water where it is most needed, but build it far enough out that the stem stays dry.
Keep watering well for several weeks. I will follow my own advice and tell you how it works; I need to move my treasured callicarpa as soon as possible.
Take great care not to walk on muddy garden beds, and do not dig over wet soil or you will create large clods that will be difficult to deal with later in the season.
If you used winter mulch, begin to pull it back when new shoots appear, but do this gradually, keeping in mind it is still officially winter.
Add any compost or other soil additives you are going to use, and gently mix it into the top few inches of soil with a trowel or whatever tool works best for you.
As soon as the soil feels right, peas, sweet peas and potatoes can go into the ground.
Horseradish is the herb of the year, so why not try some to be in fashion? This root vegetable can go in now.
In the flower beds, pansies, calendula and snapdragons will tolerate some cold, and can cope with most early April temperatures.
Every year, it seems the daffodils get slammed with some snow or really heavy frost, and I get a flurry of questions about what to do. The answer is nothing. Mother Nature expects setbacks just as we do, and if there is a little damage, it will be covered by new growth soon.
And now is the time to begin your seven months of weeding. Removing those tiny innocent-looking plants now will ensure you are not dealing with their descendants months from now. Hand pulling is best because there are many roots and shoots just under the surface of the soil at this time that could be damaged by hand tools.
Check your garden for low spots after a heavy rain. Mark the area of puddles in some way, and when things dry a bit, fill in the low spot or dig a channel for better drainage.
That is a good place to use the soil you dug out when planting shrubs or perennials.
Now all that remains to do is to hope for some pleasant days when we can go out and accomplish all these tasks.