The first thing to do after a sever winter and a long early spring that felt like it would never end... assess the damage. This year we also had last years horrific thirsty summer to deal with. The vegetable garden beds look fine (but only one of the two little dogwoods in the front made it). The concord grape vine (blue small tart grapes) is bursting out with buds, but the Niagara green grape vine has only two shoots this year. We will see if it recovers.
The young asparagus plants survived the winter and last summer, despite fierce competition with some mint that is encrouching on their space. The mint got dug up, a bed frame was added, and then they got soil, sand, and compost. I think the asparagus will be much happier this year. Purple asparagus is much thicker than the green one, and turns (unfortunately) green when cooked. But it tastes heavenly, green or purple doesn't matter.
We installed 5 new raised bed frames made from locally grown and sawn Eastern White Pine and Swedish pallet hinges. In the bottom of the deep one we put cardboard to smother all the weeds and grass, and then added loads of dirt (thanks kids and PP). On the lower ones, where the plants will grow into the ground itself and not just in the raised bed (for better moisture during our hot summers), I just added newspaper in the bottom so it can rot faster and kill weeds at the same time. We will see if it works for the peppers.
My garden decorations survived the winter fine, but some of our trees died after last summer's extreme drought and this winter's harsh weather with ice storms and cold. Around here in NJ you see many big pines and spruces stand as dead brown skeletons after last summer, and I have seen such dramatic loss of trees before. This is in addition to all the trees that fell down last year in freak storms. The weather is really changing, and it is getting worse. (click on the photos to see larger versions on Flickr)
our dead zelkova tree, sniff.....