A welcome harbinger of spring is the upcoming Spring Gardening School sponsored by the. Each year the Cornell Cooperative, with assistance of its certified Master Gardener volunteers, sets up a gardening school right in Suffolk County’s own backyard.
During three consecutive Saturdays in April, the program offers both experienced and novice gardeners a wealth of information through lectures, demonstrations and reference material. There is also the welcome opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded garden enthusiasts before recess begins.
New courses offerings were added to this year’s program: Asian Herbs and Vegetable Gardening, The New Victory Garden and a segment on growing nutritious figs, aptly named Figs, Figs, Figs. Outside of the realm of garden edibles there is a new offering that blends craft with flowering gardening: Pressed Flower Workshop.
The school schedule starts off in Brentwood, on April 2 and then moves west to Bellport/Brookhaven on April 9 and Riverhead on April 16. Registration information for the Spring Gardening School can be found at www.ccesuffolk.org After reviewing the registration site online, call 631-727-7850 to speak with Caroline Kiang, Extension Educator if you have further questions about this “spot on” gardening program.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a soil sample for free analysis. Test results will include recommendations on how to improve the quality of the soil for your intended plantings. Another popular part of the annual program is the Plant Sale run by the Master Gardener Society.
By the time the spring gardening school takes place, the warm weather will have beckoned the seasoned and novice alike outside to turn the soil for May planting. Now is the time to get out into the garden, long before your seedlings are ready to tuck into warmer soil. Taking the time to prepare your garden soil thoroughly for planting in May will be a rewarding step toward a bountiful season.
Turning the soil in early spring will loosen the compacted earth which has been flattened down by soaking rain and the weight of heavy snowfall. The process of turning the soil will allow the process of aeration take place. In addition to giving the earth below a chance to breathe, you can maximize the fruits of your labor by adding organic material to planting beds as you turn them over, in order to improve the overall makeup of the soil. Kitchen compost and well decayed leaves can be worked into the garden bed as you shovel, enriching the earth with plant-loving nutrients. These organic additions encourage earthworm activity, creating a finer loam in which to plant seeds and seedlings later in the season.
The return to daylight savings time provided a bonus of natural light outside in the evening and is a welcome opportunity for the home gardener who arrives home at the end of a traditional work day. Be warned, the intense work involved in turning and augmenting garden soil is no easy task. Whether you use a spade or a rototiller, the energy devoted to turning the earth below is taxing on even the most fit body. Yet, if approached at a realistic pace, your efforts can be compiled without undue strain. If sore muscles emerge and try to you from the glory of your garden, try instead to focus on the tiny seeds or young seedlings that you will plant later this spring. Let your forward looking, healing thoughts lead you down the garden path to grand visions of delicious, fresh fare on your summer table.
Deborah Kusa is a long time resident of the North Fork. An avid garden and naturalist, she earned her Master Gardener certification through Cornell Cooperative. Prior to her contribution at North Fork Patch, she penned both the garden column and feature stories for the Times-Review newspapers. Deborah is also an experienced real estate investor and is licensed as an Associate Broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.