This is a good weekend to get rid of winter's cobwebs, as it were, and do more than just anticipate the coming harvest. It's time to primp up the garden and ready it for planting.

Get rid of the dried-up corn stalks you never quite got to last fall. Pull up those few persistent weeds that you said to heck with back when there was too much work to do anyway. Pull up markers and stakes that were supposed to let you know what variety of peppers you had planted, but then got buried by the weeds. Pull back mulch from the asparagus bed and the perennial herbs. This will let the new shoots push up unimpeded by too many layers of stuff on top. Don't get rid of the mulch, though, just pull it away and pack it down around the new shoots, which actually should be appearing already.

If you look closely you'll see those onions you planted in the fall coming up green and shiny, like the first spikes of daffodils pushing through the ground.

Unroll your pea and bean trellis and set it out in a place that's different from last year. If you've already planted early peas, set the trellis down that row, being careful not to tamp down the soil that covers the seeds.

Finally, haul out the tomato cages and set them up, also in a different place from last year. A gardener friend says he cuts off the bottom ring of wire from his cages, which are concrete reinforcement wire (the very best for tomato cages), and that allows him to push the cages down into the soil for stability. Because I don't own a pair of bolt cutters, which is just about what you have to use to cut that heavy wire, I get a length of 12-gauge wire and cut 8i to 12i pieces, bend them into a U-shape and use two or three of these to anchor each cage. But realistically, you don't have to worry about anchoring tomato cages just yet. That's done after you've put one or two plants inside each cage. The main purpose of even fooling with them now is to get them placed properly so you know how much space to allow.

HUSTLING HOUSEPLANTS: It's time to start feeding your houseplants again, if you haven't killed them over the winter. This is the first year I've actually succeeded in bringing my tender perennial herbs through the winter alive. They don't look nearly as good as they did the day they came in, but they're holding their own, mainly because I managed to keep them watered; in just a few weeks, they'll be back in the garden again, having been transferred to large pots, since I didn't get to do that in the fall. Meantime, right now I will begin watering them with the Peter's all-purpose houseplant mix of water-soluble food. It may be a hideous, color, but it's very easy to use and does a very good job of boosting the plants.

SIGNS OF SPRING: I believe that too often a gardener doesn't pay enough attention to signs of growth around him. For example, right now, the tips of forsythia buds are turning lemon-green and crocuses are blooming -- some have even come and gone. Daffodils are pushing up, and even though rose stalks still look dead, if you examine them closely, the live ones will have tiny red buds on them, and will be pliant to the touch. These are all- important clues to guide you in your planting. They may not tell you a whole lot right now, but gauging your gardening practices to what plants and trees are doing around you is the oldest way of succeeding with the garden. So, if you do nothing else this weekend, wander on out and just take a look around you and take notes for next year. It'll be a big help.