the way out here

Spring cleaning

Posted 3/26/24

Spring has sprung! And then it sort of fell on its face, rolled over, laughed and got up again before tripping over its shoelaces and jovially zig-zagging into a wall. 

It was at this point …

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the way out here

Spring cleaning


Spring has sprung! And then it sort of fell on its face, rolled over, laughed and got up again before tripping over its shoelaces and jovially zig-zagging into a wall. 

It was at this point we all stopped thinking foolish thoughts, such as “We’re going to have an early spring” or “We’ll get the gardens going early.”

It happens every year lately, even though we seem to think otherwise. There have been a few factions as of late: those who are new to the area and truly don’t know what to expect; those who have lived here longer than others have been alive and are just waiting for one of those epic winters of disastrous proportions where the snow falls by the foot; and the rest of us in between, who know how bad it can be but try to average that risk with the mild winters of the past decade we’ve been experiencing.

Whichever group you fall into, it’s only natural to want to get up and get moving when the warm spring air fills your nostrils for the first time in months, even if it is full of false promises. Old-timer or new-timer, if you live in this stretch of the Upper Delaware River corridor, you need to anticipate the “last blast,” as I call it. The weather doing its spring cleaning and pushing out whatever was left in the junk drawer of meteorological Uno cards. 

If you’re ambitious like me, however, you welcome those fluke days of warmer weather and take care of a few chores that once complete will set you up better for the true spring to come. 

One such 60-degree day last week, I drug my wife to the greenhouse and started cutting, dragging and raking all the leftover plants from last season. 

In a perfect world, we would have done this at the end of the season and covered the soil better—tucking it in, so to speak, until we were ready to grow. Life happened, however, and here we are in spring using a leafblower to sweep out the heaps of weeds and seeds to be burned lest they plague us all the more.

We found a few new problems and fixed them—it’s to be expected after the hiatus. One was a small branch that had snapped from a tall tree and floated nearly a hundred yards sideways in the wind to pierce the roof of our greenhouse. 

For those who don’t know, that plastic is anything but cheap. But thank the Lord, the puncture didn’t stretch or tear, so it was just a small hole. We have patches for just such events. A few minutes later and it was as good as new.

If you are a hectic farmer like us you might also understand the struggle/relief of finding old tools in the grass or in areas that were previously concealed by weeds and brush. One of the mercies of spring is all that old growth has died back and you can finally clean up where you fell off the wagon last year. With two boys under the age of five, I found more tools strewn about than I really ever wanted to. However, there were plenty that were not where they belonged for which I was responsible. To live is to improve. To fail to improve results in one thing. A lot of missing tools. 

Joking aside, this is what these days are for in my mind: catching up, resetting and starting fresh for the next endurance race that is our growing season.

The way out here we don’t trust anyone’s ability to predict the winter, and there’s always a little more of it than we want to think there is. Despite this, the work continues and the blessings flow—thankfully more faithfully than our rollercoaster of weekly temperatures. If I had to say where we are right now, it would be well into seedling starting time, but hopefully there’s a good month or so before the first pull of the lawnmower time. Unless you have weeds in your greenhouse—but that’s a better job for the flamethrower. Who says work can’t be fun?

spring, cleaning, way out here, winter, garden


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