How to Make Spring Come Sooner


I need spring. My soul needs it after the dreary winter days that feel like they've dragged on forever (I know, it's pathetic - I live in Texas where winters are both mild and short). I don't know how people survive and thrive in places where winter reigns throughout most of the year. Here in the Hill Country, winter appears to be desperately trying to hang on, as we had a late freeze last week that was just plain cruel. Our last average frost date is usually the last week of February for Zone 8A. But for a week that started out in the 20s, finishing it up in the 80s was a clear indicator that Spring is here, as per Texas usual.

The weather change made me think of how anxious winter makes me, and the things I do to plan for Spring that keep me going. My fellow gardeners/farmers/nature lovers usually lament with me during the colder months, so I thought I'd share a few of the things I do while waiting for warmer weather.


Seed Catalogs

Not only are they beautiful, but they are informative and helpful for planning your garden. There is nothing better than relaxing in front of a fire with a stack of catalogs, planning for spring. Some of my

Some of my winter reading

favorites include Johnny's Selected Seeds, Baker Creek Heirlooms, and Tomato Growers. You can usually request a catalog for free, and you will have endless entertainment for hours, perusing which heirloom tomato varieties to grow (I couldn't decide so I chose four different ones...we'll see how it goes).

Seed companies have also expanded to include gardening tips, tools and equipment, helpful articles, information specific to different hardiness zones - lots more information than just seeds.

Another option is to join a Seed Savers Exchange, like this one. This is a great option if you are into preserving heirloom varieties and rare plants. Providing a membership to something like this makes a fantastic gift, as well.


Mulch

First-Cut Mulch

On days where it is warm enough to work outside, I like to top off mulch before it is warm enough for the weeds to start growing back. Adding a thick carpet of mulch around trees, flower beds, and gardens is one of the best things you can do for your landscape, in my opinion. Benefits include weed reduction, water retention, and just plain aesthetics. There are tons of mulch options out there, but I prefer something called "first-cut" or "primary". Basically, it is the first shredding of cedar trees native to our area without any added dyes. It has a natural look, is easy to work with, and decomposes rather slowly. I like to do this task before the weeds and brambles reappear with the warm weather and have it looking beautiful for spring.


Bulbs

If you're an anthophile like me, the lack of flowers blooming during the winter can be remedied by

forcing bulbs indoors. If you're unfamiliar with this concept, you can read more about how to do it here. It's really very simple, and if you know which end of a bulb is up, then you can do it. Bulbs can be forced year-round, but winter is the most popular time to do it since there isn't much color elsewhere. Amaryllis and paperwhites are the easiest, but other bulbs can be forced, as well. I like to give bulbs in mason jars as Christmas gifts, which you can see below.

Eventually, spring is here, and all the little things I did during the winter proved effective because I survived. :) When I find the first bird nest of the season, it's official.

Tufted Titmouse Nest in a Nest Box

How do you get through the winter? What do you do when you're looking forward to spring? Share in the comments below.



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