Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Judy Walker
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Waiting, waiting, and more waiting

Master Gardener Intern


Finally some green - my eyes have been starving! At long last, it is almost garden planting time. Every season, I fight the urge to get my hands dirty and place those tender seedlings in the ground, usually tricked by the warm winds of spring. With the average last frost date in our area sometime around June 12, conventional wisdom among local master gardeners is to wait until about the first week in June before planting the vegetable garden in earnest. Oh, it has been a long winter.

But there is plenty to do to occupy the time until the time is just right. Here are some ideas:

• Give your gardening tools a good cleaning and sharpening. You may have done this last October, but if fall took you by surprise again, like it did me, mix up a simple bleach solution and get scrubbing. Follow this link to a step-by step tool maintenance guide:

• Take an inventory of your seed packets. Seeds may last longer than a year, depending on the type and circumstances. Here's a tip from one savvy master gardener: plant your older seeds first- should they fail to germinate, there is still time to plant again with a new pack. And speaking of new seeds, a word from another wise gardener: when putting in a home garden, buy seeds in the smallest quantity available. It is surprising just how far 2 ounces of carrot seed can go...

• Now that you know what you have on hand for seeds, make a garden plan. I like to map out my raised beds on graph paper, and many gardeners refer to garden logs or journals they have kept over the years. Noting what and when you planted will prove very helpful as the season progresses and for plant rotation and modifications next year.

• Bring or mail in a soil sample. Follow this link for detailed how-to instructions: And while you're out there in the dirt, clean up last year's debris and go after the first of this year's weeds. And maybe sow a few cool veggie seeds like carrot, peas or broccoli just for fun.

• Get rid of your old fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides. The Household Hazardous Waste Facility at the Transfer Center in Carlton County opened for the season on May 8, and will take these chemicals at no charge. Here is a link to a very handy PDF that explains how to safely and appropriately dispose of these and many other different household waste items.

• Go to a plant sale! The Carlton County Master Gardeners are holding their annual plant sale on Saturday, May 19 at Veteran's Park in Cloquet. The sale starts at 9:00 a.m., but plants fly off the shelves so come early for reasonably priced plants hardy in our zone. The sale proceeds benefit local community projects.

• Want to learn something new? Master Gardener Chris Carlson is presenting Petals and Blooms on Monday, May 21 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Carlton County Extension Office, 317 Chestnut Ave. in Carlton. Please call the Extension Office at (218) 384-3511 to reserve a seat and learn about perennial flowers from an expert.

"You think winter will never end, and then, when you don't expect it, when you have almost forgotten it, warmth comes and a different light. Under the bare trees the wildflowers bloom so thick you can't walk without stepping on them. The pastures turn green and the leaves come."

From Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry


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