Late Winter in the Garden

maple sap dripping from tap into a half gallon mason jar

Maple sap is flowering, birds are singing, the days are getting longer and the sun is starting to put off some warmth. It feels like spring outside! This kind of weather always has me itching to get outside and I’m happy to have chores that need done. This year I’m boiling down some of the maple sap on an induction burner, it’s working quite well. When it’s warm I use it on the back porch.

cooking down maple sap on an induction burner
Boiling down maple sap on an induction burner.
variety of pruning tools with a pair of LL bean boots and a gray cat
Soafie is checking out the pruning tools I have ready to take out to the garden.

Now that the garden has grown significantly since we moved here in 2012, I have loads of pruning to do each spring. There’s a really nice peach tree that’s now 3 years old. It’s time to thin this beauty out and hope for a few peaches this summer!

young peach tree ready for winter pruning
Young peach tree that is in need of a good pruning to keep it contained.

The elderberries that I planted three years ago were getting HUGE and needed a really hard prune (I forgot to do them last year so they were a bit out of control). Luckily, elderberries don’t mind a severe haircut.

elderberry branches pruned from shrub in winter
Not even half of the branches cut from the elderberries.

It’s also the time to prune late flowering clematis vines, I usually just cut these right back to about 12 inches above the ground. The early flowering ones usually get winter pruned in my cold climate, so I cut out growth that died back and thin a bit.

brown clematis vine in winter on trellis
Late summer blooming clematis ready to be cut back.
burlap wrapped rose bushes in a garden with snow on the ground
Roses wrapped in burlap to keep the deer away, this also helps protect them from cold winter winds as well.

As I’m out and about I also inspect all the plants for deer browsing. The longer I garden the better I am at protecting plants from foraging deer. In some years I’ve attempted to fence in the garden, but the hungry deer aren’t deterred much unless it’s a formidable fence. Lately I’ve taken to covering some plants with pine boughs, this provides both winter protection and protection from hungry deer. I also wrap larger plants (especially roses & blueberry bushes) with burlap. Not only does this keep the deer away, it helps protect buds from the cold winds that whip through the main garden.

Young cherry tree surrounded with a stock panel fence to protect it from deer browsing

I’ve also started using large stock panel or welded wire circles around fruit trees. This is a fantastic way to keep deer away from specific plants. It’s easy and inexpensive to do and the fencing can be used year after year (it can also be left up in summer if deer browsing is an issue in the growing season).

What late winter garden chores are you up to?

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