Gardening Tips: Advice from Springtimes Past

What to do this week

Michelle Smith is away this week, but don’t worry, she’s got your back as far as early-May gardening is concerned.

Back on 3 May 2017, she was urging you to get off your couch and plant some trees:

The old saying about it being better to plant a one-dollar tree in a five-dollar hole than a five-dollar tree in a one-dollar hole is more than an existential statement about the price of nothing. If you do this right, the tree will outlive you by many years. To start with, dig the holes before you take the trees out of their pots or bags or cellar. Even on a drizzly day, the small rootlets can dry out fast and then the tree has to grow them all over again.

Chickens. (Spectator photo)

Chickens. (Spectator photo)

And here she is on 2 May 2018 advising on dividing (although not necessarily conquering) your rhubarb:

You don’t have to divide rhubarb every year. If your rhubarb was getting thin and spindly last year it means that the root has overgrown and is starting to strangle itself, so you need to dig the whole plant up and divide it into two or three pieces. Make sure that each piece has a couple of eyes on it. If you want more rhubarb than you had already, take each piece and put it into a new hole. Otherwise, the pieces could be given away. Dig each new hole at least two feet across, and work lots of compost into it. The rhubarb is going to be there for years, so you want to make sure you feed it well at the beginning.

And finally, if you have a moment between digging $5 holes and dividing your rhubarb to read something a little lengthier, here she is on 19 April 2017 with a thoughtful reflection on the reasons why she farms.

That should keep you occupied until next week, when Michelle will be back just as garden season begins for real.



Market gardener, farmer, workshop leader, seed-saver, political candidate and mother, Michelle Smith has spent over 30 years coping with the challenges of our bioregion and in the process has built a store of practical and technical knowledge. The Inverness resident has served on the board of Seeds of Diversity Canada and represented Alternative Producers with the Federation of Agriculture but can do nothing about her hair. She is pictured with a head of Club Wheat, a seed that shares her approach to hairdressing.





Hey, while we’ve got you here, can we just say thanks for reading the Spectator? We’re always glad to see you.

That said, if you wanted to make us dance a (virtual) jig of joy, please consider subscribing. You can find out more about what we’re all about here, before cruising on over to the Subscriptions Page, where you can choose from a fine selection of possibilities — including a joint subscription with the Halifax Examiner. And right now, if you take out a regular, annual subscription to the Spectator ($100) or a joint annual Spectator/Examiner subscription ($160), you’ll get a free gift — yes, you read that correctly, the Spectator’s got swag!

Prefer to monitor the situation awhile longer? Not quite ready to commit? Why not sign up for our weekly newsletter to find out what’s been newly released from behind the paywall (and give us a chance to win you over)?

Thanks for listening! We now return you to your regularly scheduled web browsing…