Spring is finally stuttering its way into existence. Yesterday was the warmest day so far of 2013. The temperature soared to 55F (12.7C). I opened a window for a short time so the cats could sniff some fresh air. By the time the day began to cool, so much snow had melted I could see bare ground in parts of the garden.

Bookman had to work yesterday so he missed the gorgeous day. And of course, since he did not work today, it is not such a nice day. Sunny, yes, but a cold wind is gusting, whipping the naked tree branches around. The plan was to give Bossy, our front garden green apple tree, a pruning. But the wind is too much for tree pruning today. We will try again later in the week when the temperature will be warmer again and the winds are forecast to be light.

Instead of pruning Bossy we planned the veggie garden. I scattered seed packets all over the floor, drew the garden beds on a piece of paper and with the help of Bookman, Wikipedia companion plant list, Golden Harvest Organics, and Carrots Love Tomatoes, we figured out what to plant where. It was like working a big jigsaw puzzle — tomatoes, basil, marigolds, and bell peppers all get planted together but keep the kohlrabi away from the tomatoes but plant it with beets but keep the beets away from the runner beans.

After the puzzle was put together, we sorted through the seed packets and made little stacks of what seeds need to be planted as soon as the ground thaws, what needs to be started later this week in our mini greenhouse, and what gets planted in early and mid-May. Then we clipped each group together with notes and put them by the garden door so we don’t forget about them.

The annual plant sale Bookman and I go to every May has their 2013 catalogue available as of yesterday so I downloaded it and went through it, marking everything that struck my fancy. Next weekend I will start to winnow down the list, but on the first pass through it is fun to pretend as if I had all the time and money and my neighbor’s houses had disappeared to be replaced by my garden. If only.

And because one needs inspiration from time to time, I enjoyed two gardening books from the library as well. Front Yard Gardens by Liz Primeau is supposedly a how-to book but really isn’t. What it is is page after page of color photos of before and after front yard gardens big and small, overflowing and minimalist, natural and formal. Books like this are great for inspiration — I’ll take that wall, that path, that color combination, that trick to make a small space look bigger, and see how I might work it into my own garden.

The other book was Landscaping with Native Plants of Minnesota by Lynn Steiner. Another book full of inspiration but also information. For instance, I learned that Minnesota has three main biomes, prairie, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest. Minneapolis is part of the deciduous forest biome, or at least it used to be. There isn’t much in the way of forest in the Twin Cities anymore. Minnesota used to have more than 18 million acres of tall grass prairie. Sadly, these days all but 150,000 acres of it have been plowed under and farmed and built on. Only 48,000 of those remaining acres are actually protected. That breaks my heart and makes my own little efforts at building a prairie garden that much more urgent. I can’t replicate the vast diversity of a real prairie in my urban garden but I can create some of it and provide food and protection for birds, bees and butterflies and that’s got to be worth something.

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