Ahh, the sweet sting of blisters

Pruned some shrubs in the yard yesterday and finished up with the raspberries and salvia today. Didn’t take long for several

My raspberry patch after today's pruning.

blisters to bubble up on my right hand – my “winter soft” hands will need to start toughening up. Have to say though, if blisters are a sign that spring really is here, I’ll take one on every finger!

It is, after all, only March 15 and winter usually holds out for awhile longer in Northeastern Wisconsin. Temps in the 60s and 70s have been fabulous. Opening the windows in the house, feeling the warm breeze blow through, it all seems quite decadent. Even slept with the window open last night. Can’t ever recall doing that in March before.

Anyway, back to the subject of pruning. In past years, it consisted of snipping off the dead shoots sometime in early June after the new growth

The raspberries were so thick last year that it sometimes was difficult to find all the berries in the middle of the patch.

Last year's pretty salvia.

The rhubarb is starting to peek through the ground!

already was well-established. The raspberries have been incredibly thick the last two years, and although I knew they needed pruning sooner, I just never got around to it. So today I took off all of the branches that either were obviously dead (the ones that broke off and didn’t even need snipping), plus those that almost looked like tree bark peeling. Even with just the bare branches standing, the patch still was so thick and prickly that I had to use one arm to push branches back while using the other hand to cut off the dead shoots. Fortunately, I was smart enough to wear a fairly thick coat, and even with the long sleeves, I still ended up with scratches on my arms. And I think I’m going to be picking thorns out of my hair for several days!

The salvia, which anchors the corners of my garden, also has done well in the past. With it too, however, I never got around to pruning until the dead shoots stuck out like sore thumbs among the fresh, green growth. I snipped it all off to just a couple inches above the ground. As I cut off the dead shoots, I could see that new growth is peeking out of the ground, so I’m pretty confident my pruning won’t hurt anything. But since I’ve never pruned the raspberries this early or this extensive before, I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll do OK this summer. The salvia I could get along without if it came to that, but I’d be extremely disappointed if the raspberries were a bust. They were such a treat last year!

If the weather stays warm, I’m hoping the pile of branches and leaves in the middle of the garden dries out enough so I can burn it in the next few weeks. Then maybe I can get the tiller going in early April and turn the soil several times before I plant. Here’s hoping there are no more big snowstorms that put the kibosh on the early gardening season.

Thanks Mother Nature, for helping this booyah gardener stick to her goal of getting an earlier start in the garden. I’ll do my best to make you proud.

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