It’s official: You can rake.

In most yards. With a lightweight rake. (No power rakes allowed.)

It’s too early to do almost anything else in the yard (no fertilizing). Aside from cleaning out the garden and planting peas, radishes and lettuces, there isn’t much you can do in the garden, either.

Just ask the Greengirls, the Star Tribune’s garden bloggers, who make their season debut today at

Like most veterans, they’ve learned not to rush the season.

“I’ve become a very patient gardener,” said Mary Jane Smetanka, a Greengirl and a Hennepin County master gardener. “I’ve learned you can’t fool Mother Nature.” Instead of planting, she’s planning.

Greengirl Kim Palmer isn’t a planner. Aside from planting tomatoes, herbs and beets (her favorite veggie), she has no idea which annuals she’ll use. “I buy completely on impulse,” she said. “I go to the garden center and pick up whatever appeals to me.”

Nicole Hvidsten, our newest Greengirl, has had her garden plans held up — not by the weather but by the perennial question: to expand her plot or not? When it finally comes time to plant, she’ll get help from her two youngest kids. Taylor, 13, chooses the color scheme for the annuals that line the vegetable bed. Mikkal, 7, selects a “rogue” plant, “one quirky vegetable that we’ve never grown before.”

Helen Yarmoska — a Hennepin Country master gardener, a beekeeper and a trailblazer, is trying strawbale gardening this year. She’s also trying to decide what to bring to the Greengirls Plant Swap on May 18. So far, it’s coneflowers, cannas, zinnias she started from seed and “whatever else I can dig up in my yard.”

Because I lost a massive elm tree, my garden is going from shade to sun. That means I’ll bring a few shade-lovers that have lost their home (ligularia, false Jacob’s ladder and a selection of hostas and ferns). I’ve also got a catmint that needs splitting. That is, if my cat, Lucy, will let me.


Connie Nelson • 612-673-7087