Happy New Year.
A happy, healthy, peaceful 2003 to all of our readers and those they hold dear.
Now that the winter solstice is past, observe the days beginning to grow longer. Take some time out and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. This fulfills an important dimension living. Think positively of this new year before us. Do some armchair dreaming. Look forward to a more fruitful garden, to more pleasant weather, more favorable temperatures, and more even moisture. Create more personal free time to enjoy all of your blessings. Begin the letter you've been intending to write. Dip into the books you've been longing to read. Enjoy more the company of friends. You carry within you the world in which you must live.
My last garden calendar appeared Dec. 3. Many begin to get lulled into cabin fever mode and think now that winter has settled in every thing's finished until spring. You have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities towards those goals mentioned in the previous paragraph.
What follows is my:
Gardener's Winter Calendar Two.
* If you've never gardened under lights, you might give it a try. Cool white fluorescent tubes are inexpensive and economical to use. You can be caretaker of your own miniature rain forest on a tabletop.
* Repair and/or spruce up outdoor furniture.
* What a great time of year to maintain, sharpen, lubricate lawnmowers and other garden tools. You choose the pace, but don't overlook hoes, trowels, pruning tools, saws, spades and forks. After sharpening, coat with oil or silicone. If you're really into it, paint wooden handles a bright color (red, purple, you pick) so they'll be easy to find in the yard and garden.
* Look over your perennial favorites for frost heaving. If any have been thrust up a bit, just gently tamp back into the earth and add some mulch.
* Make sure houseplants receive as much light as possible. Winter days are still very short and light levels are very low, so we continue to withhold any fertilizer. Be careful not to over-water. Plant growth is at a minimum now. Pamper any with large, smooth leaves with a gentle soap and water bath to remove any accumulated dust or grime. They'll reward you with renewed growth and a fresh appearance. Check them all regularly for pest infestations. Insecticidal soap should control and problem pests.
* Any time you can turn the garden soil over the winter during a warm spell helps to break the hibernation patterns of a variety of insect pests. They are exposed to the cold and also to beneficial predators. Turn the compost, too.
* If you have any summer flowering bulbs in storage, check them and discard any that have spoiled. A light mist will keep them just barely moist.
* If you're inclined, there is no better time to plan your 2003 garden(s) and landscaping ideas. I've found a really useful tool. Take several photos of your home and grounds. Blown-up black and white copies of the prints are very useful for planning. And, as long as you're planning for 2003, insect and disease resistant varieties should head your list. You might be surprised by the large number of native plants that qualify.
* It's never too late to apply mulch to frozen ground.
* If you have a sunny kitchen window, you could grow a few culinary herbs for fragrance as well as flavor.
* Plan and build a cold frame.
Serious vegetable and fruit growers will want to mark your calendar for the
2003 N.J. Annual Vegetable Meeting, Jan. 14-16 in Atlantic City.
Could be a great learning vacation.
Tuesday: sweet corn, strawberries, new technology, ethnic heritage crops, greens, and agri-tourism.
Wednesday: wholesale marketing, blueberries, potatoes, tomatoes, transition to alternatives.
Thursday: greenhouse transplants, cucurbits, eggplants and peppers, irrigation and water management, insect pest identification, diagnosing disorders of vegetable crops, and Core pesticide training credits.
For more information contact Mel Henninger, (732) 932-9711 x120, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fruit tree pruning should not be done now even though it's tempting (the architecture is so plainly visible with the leaves gone). Wait until March or even April. The closer the pruning date is to the expected breaking of dormancy, the more rapid and successful will be the healing that needs to take place after pruning.
Did You Know: Oregon State University has a fence post farm for trialing untreated wood posts in a silty-clay loam with a pH of 5.4 and an organic content of 4.7%. The most durable was osage orange with an average service life of (are you ready?) 66 years. Pacific yew comes in at 25, red cedar 24, redwood 21, and Oregon white oak at 18 years.
Until next time, Happy New Year. Hope I have given you enough to contemplate.
From The Garden of Ed. Submitted for publication in The Towne Crier on December 31, 2002
© 2002 Ed Mues. All Rights Reserved.