Seeds & Saplings

Spring is slowly, sloowly arriving. The temperatures still dip into the 30s at night but range from 40s to 60s during the day. The trees are still bare, but the lilac bushes are getting tiny leaves. The bluebirds have returned and have begun nesting in at least one of the birdhouses. It looks as if chickadees are nesting in one of the birdhouses as well.

EJ has begun working in the garden. Last weekend he planted peas in the garden, which likes to get started early. He also has started some seeds in containers. We don’t really have a place to start seeds that is safe from frost and the animals. However, EJ builds a temporary shelf in the extra bathroom, which has a skylight. He will take it down when he transplants the plants outside.

EJ bought dirt for our raised garden beds. Our soil is mostly sand. Some of the plants don’t mind it–like green beans and peas–but other plants prefer better soil so we plant them in raised garden beds. The advantage of this is that we don’t have to bend over so much to weed, which means fewer backaches.

I’m looking forward to growing my herbs but I have to wait because there is still a high risk of frost. I’m never sure which herbs will return in the Spring but I have some seeds that EJ can get started for me, we will buy other seeds, and we will get a few herb plants from the local plant nursery. EJ stopped into the nursery last weekend but they said they are not going to have herbs available until Mother’s Day, which is this weekend. Bummer. We were hoping to get our plants BEFORE Mother’s Day because the nursery is always terribly crowded on Mother’s Day weekend and most of the plants are gone afterward. Oh, well.

The counties here in Northern Michigan have Conservation Districts, which manage things like water quality, soil erosion, forestry, invasive species, natural resource education, and recycling. The Districts each have a tree sale every Spring. People order trees from them and they notify them when the trees are available to be picked up. The trees–saplings about 1 to 2 feet tall–are very inexpensive and we always want to buy some, but the sale comes about the time we have other expenses (taxes, vehicle licenses, etc.) so we can’t always do it. However, sometimes they have trees leftover which they sell at a HUGE discount. So although we were unable to buy trees during the regular sale, we were able to buy some last weekend at the surplus sale. We bought one cherry tree for $20 and a bundle of trees for $20. The bundle included 2 birch, 2 black walnut, 2 basswood, 2 red oak, 2 dogwood, 2 elderberry bushes, and 5 white pine trees. We mostly wanted the cherry trees, elderberry bushes, and white pines. The others are just extra delights and we planted them where we can enjoy their beauty. We figure the squirrels can enjoy the acorns from the oaks. We spent several hours planting them all around our property. We already live in a forest…but we like trees.

Last weekend our township had its annual Spring Clean-up Day. This is a day when people can get rid of unwanted items for free. Usually, we take our items to a designated recycling place, but this year the township told everyone to place their junk alongside the road and they’d pick it up. EJ and I thought, “Well, this is going to be an utter nightmare.” We thought this because when we lived in our small village downstate (population about 650), they originally had residents put their unwanted items along the street on Clean-up Day. It was supposed to just be for village residents, but their families and friends started bringing their unwanted items in as well so there were HUGE piles of junk. The Village guys worked extremely hard hauling everything away with their backhoe so the Village finally set up dumpsters in a designated area for residents to bring their own junk to. A township is larger than a small village and if the situation was similar to that in our village downstate…Yikes! EJ said that he saw piles of junk along the roads as he drove into work each day so we imagined the work it would take to haul everything away. We thought it would take days. However, we saw a garbage truck going down our road picking up items on the designated day…and lickity-split, everything was hauled away in a day. We are impressed.

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