APRIL 7-13: In the garden, it's time to...

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Slash and burn. Well, not really, but after the tumultuous fall, winter, and early spring we've had, we all need a good karmic cleanse. Get out there and restake your claim on the landscape. First, get rid of all the non-garden trash that's been thrown in, blown in, or otherwise dropped from the sky. Equip yourself with gloves, pruners, and a rake, and have at it. Take out the obvious 3Ds: dead, diseased, and damaged. Best tools for this - gauntlets, sharp bypass pruners, ratchet pruners, and a hand saw.

Clean out your raspberry patch. Live canes (branches) are already showing fat buds, so remove dead tips and any canes that aren't. Thinning them out to about five canes per foot is a good average and allows for adequate air circulation when the plants leaf out. As with anything thorny, cut prunings into small pieces in a paper leaf bag for convenient disposal.

Corral your hand tools (I've yet to find a Swiss Army collection that includes a hand trowel). Walking around the garden with all the aforementioned tools in hand is a bad idea unless they're somehow kept together. I only buy stuff with red handles, or paint everything red, so I don't lose tools in the undergrowth. Although an apron is great for smaller forays, a bucket is ideal. Drill holes in the bucket so it can't possibly hold water, and keep the tools on the small side so you can put a lid on it, converting it to a seat - handy if you otherwise find yourself sitting on the wet ground when the cleanup tasks utterly overwhelm you.

smccabe@pennhort.org

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestone

krautery.com).