Seeds, bee houses and spring tips

Meleah’s bee house
When you first start seeing early spring flowers, bring the bee house outside. Photos by Meleah Maynard

Whew! It’s March, so we get to start growing things again. As always, we’ve got loads of seeds in our Little Free Seed Library. In case you don’t already know, we use the top shelf of our Little Free Library for seed sharing in the spring and fall. If you’d like to pick up or drop off some seeds, the library is located on our boulevard at 45th & Washburn in Linden Hills. 

If you have seeds to share, please bring them in their original packets or label them in envelopes or baggies so people can clearly see what they are. A huge thank you to whoever dropped off a whole bunch of great seeds recently, all seemingly harvested from their own garden and neatly labeled, including tall purple allium, yellow meadow rue, butterfly weed, blue Baptisia, bottle gentian, Short’s aster, Grandpa Ott’s morning glories and clematis integrifolia (a bush-type). 

We always appreciate seed donations so we can keep the library stocked, but we are especially grateful this year because our biggest source of donated seeds is no longer able to get them and pass them on to us. Because of that, I’ve been writing to seed companies to see about getting some donations. Several responded positively, but only Renee’s Garden actually sent some, asking only for the price of shipping, which I happily paid. Sharing seeds is one way I try to make the world a little brighter. If you feel the same, please come on by with some seeds to share, and take some home for yourself! 

The Little Free Seed Library
The Little Free Seed Library is stocked and ready.

Wake up, little bees

Did you store a native bee house in a garage or shed for the winter? If you did, don’t forget to bring it outside in early spring. As I wrote in my September column, this is the first year I’ve overwintered a bee house so I’m learning along with you. Here’s what to do: When you first start seeing early spring flowers, bring the bee house outside and, if you haven’t already, put it in a cardboard box or plastic container with a small hole cut in the top or side. Find a spot where the box will be protected from rain and wind and give the bees some time to wake up and fly out of the box through the hole. They’ll be looking for a new place to stay, so have another bee house ready and waiting for them, if possible. Be patient, it may take several weeks for all of the bees to leave. 

A few spring tips

Believe me, I want to run out into the muck and start planting as much as you do, but try not to do that. Walking on, and digging in, wet soil harms its structure, making it more apt to become hard and compacted. If you can pick up a handful of soil and wring moisture out of it, it’s too wet to work with.

Don’t despair. There’s plenty of other stuff to do: Take off tree wraps, cut back perennials and grasses that you left up all winter, prune shrubs (not the ones that will bloom on last-year’s growth like lilacs, mock orange, forsythia and witch hazel), toss out dead annuals that are still hanging around. Do not decide until way into June whether your hardy hibiscus is dead or alive. It can take a long while for those to come up. Maybe order up a couple of yards of compost and/or manure and have it delivered to your driveway. That way, you can take your time breaking your back (and the backs of your loved ones) hauling it over to top off planters and garden beds. It’s stinky, dirty work and I really enjoy it because I know how happy our plants will be. My husband, Mike, um, not so much. 

Meleah Maynard is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor who blogs at Livin’ Thing.