The Imperfect Gardener #17

This indecisive weather is causing turmoil in my garden life.  Am I frightfully late in ordering plants or is this exactly the right time to be doing so?   Is my design idea for the new garden space woefully late or are the sketches coming together perfectly?
I have a friend who went out this weekend and bought a rake, gloves and deer repellent and started removing the leaves in her garden- in January. Let’s let that sink in – January and she’s removing leaves. Spring fever hit her hard and there was noway she was staying out of the gardens. If you are experiencing similar irresistible urges to revisit the gardens, take precautions. 
Leaves are vital to insulating the garden from freezing and thawing cycles. Leaves are nature’s way of replenishing the soil. Fallen leaves are decomposed and add nutrients. In other words, leaves are very good for the garden.
Some Exceptions
Too much of a good thing. The garden can only accommodate so much leaf fall. When it gets too thick and heavy and wet, the leaves can mat and form impermeable barriers in the garden- literally choking out rain, sun and heat as they remain as tight mats of leaves for considerable periods of time. If you have more than four inches of leaf fall, clean some out. My friend cleaned out same areas of her courtyard garden knowing the next breeze will replenish the leaf litter in her gardens. 
Don’t tread on the wet soil! One sure way to hamper your garden’s vibrancy is by walking in it when the soil is cold and wet. Your tromping about will compact the soil (so much for your carefully turned and fluffed soil/mulch). The garden I speak of is easily accessible from the walks and with the help of a rake, can be cleaned without ever stepping foot on the soil.
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer when it comes to gardening, especially when we have these little pockets of spring, but I don’t want your activities now to jeopardize your garden this coming season. Garden with care, garden with restraint and remind yourself, it’s only January!


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