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Spring’s start: When the skiing’s great and planting should wait

“Spring is sprung, the grass is riz

“I wonder where the birdies is.”

(Author unknown)



Happy spring!

This, the first official day of spring, is also the vernal equinox, the first of the two occasions in the year when day and night are of equal length.



It is the day when gardeners turn to their seed catalogues and eye their pruning shears. And it is a day when skiers know the best of the season is upon them.

Ray Chelewski, assistant manager of West Canyon Tree Farm in New Castle, is hard at work preparing for the spring planting season.

“We’re putting out bulbs. They all came in yesterday. We have gladiola, dahlia, and the vegetables, potato and onion, and canna lilies,” he said.

He also sympathized with gardeners who are itchy to get planting. It’s still a bit early for that, he cautioned.

“Just dream for a little while,” he advised. “But if you just can’t stand it there are some things you can do now.”

Now is a good time to prune trees and shrubs, he said.

Chelewski applies a “Rule of Three” to pruning.

“If it points straight up or straight down or crosses a limb, cut it off,” he said.

A limb growing upwards is likely to be what he called a water sprout or sucker. Any limb growing downwards, especially if it has fruit on it, is likely to hang down more if it isn’t cut off, he said.

A limb that crosses another is likely to rub and also should be cut off.

Shrubs can also be shaped at this time.

“You can give it shape and cut any branches that are growing out,” he said.

A check of the Martha Stewart website, http://www.marthastewart.com, turned up some handy tips for spring gardening.

Don’t jump into things too quickly, she advises. First, survey the garden.

“Make note of limbs that should be removed or cabled. Rake mulch from beds of bulbs before the foliage appears, and refresh mulch in other planting areas,” she said.

She also suggests that gardeners “tune up their tools, so everything is ready when things start growing. Make note of what is missing.”

Get the mower ready to go by sharpening the blades, topping off oil and changing the spark plug. Rake up last year’s leaves and check the lawn for areas that need to be reseeded.

Prepare new beds as soon as the soil is thawed.

These early days of spring can be a little frustrating, Chelewski admitted. Gardeners like him want to get on with the planting. But with the ground still frozen, the time is not yet ripe.

Tuesday he was outside looking at the trees that will soon be ready for sale.

“It’s warm and sunny. I’m trying to tune out the white stuff,” he said, speaking of the snow remaining on the ground. “I look up at the tree buds.”

Speaking of white stuff, Chelewski’s boss, Diana Ewald, manager of the tree farm, was at her other job Tuesday. Ewald is on the Sunlight Mountain Resort Ski Patrol.

I spoke to her at the ski patrol hut on top of Compass Mountain.

“It’s beautiful,” she said of the skiing and the brilliant sunny day at the ski area. “It’s the nicest day I’ve had.”

A part of her remained with the tree farm, however.

“Last week we were complaining about the cold weather because we were trying to get the trees dug out. But then when I get here, everyone wants it to stay cold,” she laughed.

This day, Ewald was having the best of both worlds.

She’d skied Grizzly and Defiance, Beaujolais and Joslin, Dawson and Segundo runs.

“They’re all good. Joslin is groomed so it’s fast. The others have some powder and bumps,” she said. “The bumps are nice because they’re soft.”

Sunlight spokeswoman Carolyn Tucker said the mountain had three inches of snow overnight Tuesday and the temperature was a comfortable 21 degrees.

Plenty of families on spring break were taking advantage of the spring skiing conditions, she said.

“Life is good,” she added.


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