Ten Things to Do While You’re Waiting For the Snow to Melt

– Posted in: FAQ, Mud Season
7 comments

Watching the snow pack melt is sort of like watching the tide recede–in slow motion. It is tempting to grit your teeth, clench your hands and mutter “C’mon, already!” but since that really doesn’t get you anywhere, here are some things to do instead. Some of them I’ve already done, some of them I’ve done other years, and some are things I know are a good idea, but just never seem to get around to them.

1) Watch the birds pig out.

red polls at feeder

You’d think these red polls had never seen a bird feeder before.

2) Stomp a path through the snow.

snowy path stomped down with boots

Lacking snowshoes, I tamped down the path through the secret garden with my boots, a little bit more every day.

The snow was two feet deep, over the top of my boots. Snowshoes would have been just the ticket. Instead, I put on my snowpants as well as my boots, and started stamping out a path, so I would no longer sink down to my knees with every step. It got me out of the house on (relatively) mild days and in a gardening frame of mind. You can also use snow to try out the shape of new garden beds.

3) Watch the chickens scratch.

chickens on leach field

Chickens get cabin fever, too.

The first spot to melt is over the septic tank. The second spot is over the leach field. The Chicken Maiden stomped a path from the coop to the leach field just so the chickens had some place to go. They were feeling…cooped up.

4) Sharpen your tools.

The only tool I ever sharpen is my hand pruners. Okay, if I know I’m about to split a daylily, I’ll sharpen the spade. But that means finding the file, which easily adds a half hour to the project. You can do better. Watch this video. Speedy Sharp gave me one of their sharpeners and it really did a good job. Now where did I put that thing?

5) Clean your desk.

You know you’re not going to touch it for months once the snow has melted. This is what I keep telling myself. This is what I have been telling myself since the first snow fell. And yet…my desk still has several layers of papers covering its surface. In my defense they are not the same papers that were covering it when winter started, but I have yet to achieve desk nirvana. And no, I’m not going to show you.

6) Observe the turkeys in your backyard.

wild turkeys in the backyard

They came for the same reason the chickens did.

They were attracted to the same patch of soggy lawn that the chickens scratched in. But they are a lot more skittish than chickens. The sound of the back door knob being turned as quietly as possible was enough to spook them.

Turkeys spooked by turning door knob

Not interested in human contact.

7) Tidy up the garden shed.

Organized shed before wheelbarrows wheeled in

Everything has been put back in, except for the wheelbarrows and garden cart.

Haven’t tidied it this year, yet. Have to wait for the frost to get out of the ground, because right now the soil has heaved and the door can’t be raised. But I did it last year and in 2012.

8) Figure out where to set up your new weather station.

AcuRite Weather Environment System with Wind and Rain

See that white thing with the propeller (anemometer)? I have to figure out where to set that up in the yard.

Yes! The folks at AcuRite have sent me a weather station that will enable me to have a personal weather station on Weather Underground. I can hardly wait! But first I have to set up the sensor so that it’s 30 feet away from any overhead obstruction (including tree branches) and no more than 330 feet from the mother ship (indoor sensor). And the solar panel has to face south. Soon the ground will thaw sufficiently to actually drive a mounting pole into the ground, so I need to figure this out soon.

9) Take pictures of where the snow melts first.

Snow melting around tree

Some early bloomer could be planted here. Which shall it be?

I know I’ve said this before. Several times. But you need to remember where you need to see flowers when it’s time to plant the bulbs. And if you’ve already planted bulbs there, keep looking! I found some new places where the snow melts first. What should I plant? More crocuses? Or maybe Siberian squills?

10) Clean up your seed-starting corner.

seed starting area in the basement

You’ll never know how many pots you really have until you tidy up.

Yes, you should already have done this, because it’s past time to start the earliest seeds, and it will be time to start the tomatoes before you know it. I was so proud of myself when I got this done, and rather astonished at the number of pots I’ve accumulated. It doesn’t seem like so many when they’re tossed here and there.

What else?

Okay, that’s my ten. What are you doing (or did) while waiting for the snow to melt, while waiting for mud season to officially begin? (Besides rolling of eyes and gnashing of teeth.)

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern April 8, 2015, 9:14 am

I can’t wait to sharpen my hori hori knife – it is my most favorite tool! I like that speedy sharp! Thank you. I know that this year I am noting where the snow melts first so that I plant my earliest bulbs in those locations instead of under heavy snow pack! I love watching the birds and even though I was gone for a long time, they have forgiven me and are back!

Louise April 6, 2015, 11:45 pm

I reread a perennial book and ordered a few plants suited to my part shade wet soiled rear garden. I planted it and needed a few plants to complete it.

Teresa April 6, 2015, 7:45 pm

Oh my, you still have snow. I thought my winter was long! Love the post … made me giggle. And, you are getting so organized. Impressive! See you soon.

Layanee April 5, 2015, 5:22 pm

All good suggestions. I also like to watch gardening videos on those raw, rainy spring days. Learn something new!

Robin Ripley April 5, 2015, 8:14 am

Fun post, Kathy! And some terrific pictures. Frankly, I would catch up on my reading and take a nap. Naps are harder to come by once spring really kicks in and there is so much to do.

Dee Nash April 5, 2015, 7:36 am

Great tongue in cheek humor Kathy. It will finally recede one day, but I wish you had a longer summer, and I had a shorter one. Hugs from Oklahoma.~~Dee

Jane Rutkowski April 5, 2015, 7:22 am

Oh, Kathy, this post made me smile and laugh! As for me, I try to find things to keep busy during winter. I usually clean up and put a fresh coat of paint on some of my garden chatchkies that I store in the garage. Didn’t happen this year. I did fix a broken wind chime though.
We feed the deer and the birds every winter. This year they really needed the help. Lots of snow and ice. There is one doe in particular who comes everyday with her two young ones from last year. Happy to say they are healthy and the doe is definitely pregnant! She would sometimes eat corn right from my hand!
Presently, I can see almost 90% bare soil! Yay! Even spotted a few daffodils poking up through the dirt. Snow … is still very much a possibility til early May. If there is one consolation, at least it won’t last long!
Happy gardening, Jane