For inspiration for this year:
Today I tackled a job I *should have* taken care of last winter – giving the Mexican Sage a haircut.
In this climate, Mexican Sage never really dies – it shrinks, to be sure, and the stems get woody, but there are only a few days during the year that the pretty little purple velvet flowers aren’t out seducing bees. I tried a few times to give it a haircut, but, like all children, it HATES haircuts, and it managed to sweet talk me out of it every time. However, this is something that really needs to be done. I started the job a few weeks ago, and I’ve been chipping away at it whenever I had a spare moment.
If you do it over the winter, you can pretty much cut all the stems back to a central ball. Once the sage is established (1-2 years here,) it’ll put up with all manner of chonking, and thrives as long as you leave the root and an inch or two of stem intact. Since I’m doing it after the new, soft growth has started, I have to be careful not to chonk the wrong stems.
This is a picture of the new growth. Notice that the new stems are soft and bright white. (These are also lying down because the sage is throwing a tantrum about the haircut. It’ll be fine by tomorrow.)
This is a picture of last year’s growth. You can’t see from the picture, but the stems are stiff and hard, and some are even brittle. I try to chonk these down as close to the center/ground as possible.
In this picture you can see the haircut a little more than halfway done. I work from the sidewalk back, with the idea that I want to try to make the sage accessible to bees and people as they walk by. The old growth is very pokey, too, so I want to keep it out of the way of anyone who might be passing by.
Here’s a picture of the old growth (that’s lavender behind the sage.) You can see that it’s much taller and grey, rather than short and white, so you’ll be able to tell them apart. I haven’t come up with a better way to do it than to chonk them one stem at a time, which is why it takes me so long. I’m sure there are lots of folks who would be done inside of an hour with very similar effect.
The Spring caught me unaware this year, so I’ll be spending my Spring Break trying to catch up on all the weeding and preparation so I can get the peas in the ground. I like Sugar Snap Peas because they’re so tasty, and I can plant them a little later than the Snow Peas. If you get them in in March, you’ll have deliciousness starting in April, and get a few good crops before the heat sends them shooting up and dries them out.
I will also be adding to the strawberry plants. They overwinter pretty easily here, but I’m still working out ways to keep them up out of the way of dogs and snails. Last year I went with pots, but they’re somewhat, ahem, ugly, so I’m still brainstorming on a nicer way to elevate them.
I also usually put in other vegetables – tomatoes and peppers – but I’m thinking of carrots and cukes this year. Once I’ve got the soil prepared, I’ll go to see what’s available as starts. Unfortunately, the world outside the fence is a bit too rough on seeds, so I usually only grow sunflowers, which are hardy as heck, from seed.
I had hoped to raise a few plants from seeds inside, but the time got away from me this year. Thankfully, in the garden there’s always next year.
Update: Here are the results of 1 – 1.5 hours of work (I’m a bit ADHD in the garden, so some of my time was spent checking in with the other residents of the garden.)
I haven’t swept or cleaned up yet – I wanted to use all my time digging out weeds and other less desirables.