If you’re looking for something to do to get your beds ready in early March, here’s some advice: Don’t go stomping through them. You shouldn’t go into the garden until the ground is completely thawed and not muddy, Adams advises. If the soil clumps, it’s too wet to work.
If the ground isn’t ready to work, and you’re dying to do something garden-related, you can check your tools — the tiller should be oiled, so add fresh gas/oil — so they will be ready to go when the ground is workable. How about spiffing up flowerpots and boxes? Clay pots can be painted bright, cheery colors. And you can always start a few seeds indoors to get a head start in your garden.
Most years, the garden can be started around March 15. “The first thing we plant is peas,” Sue says. In early spring, you can also plant perennials and herbs like thyme and mint. Some examples of flower species that can tolerate the cold are pansies and violas. Tender annuals, like begonias and impatiens, and vegetables — tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant — should be planted in late May. Squash and pumpkin seeds need very warm soil, so plant in June.
As you get your garden ready, consider some early-blooming perennials for a happy burst of color. Adams’ favorites are Hellebore (absolute earliest); Candytuft (Iberis); Astilbe; Iceland Poppy; Lewisia; Trout Lily (erythronium, a native wildflower); and Aquilegia canadensis (native wildflower).
There are other perennials that will bring creamy white, yellow, or purple blossoms in the late winter and early spring, but plan ahead: You need to plant them the previous fall. They include grape hyacinth, snowdrops, crocus, and daffodils.