The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Today is Saint Matthew’s Day: This is his special day and on this day an important event happens that is a harbinger of spring. It is said that on his day, the sap in the mighty oaks and maples begin to rise up the trunks and to the limbs on a journey of life for another season of growth. As we speak of the journey of life, we can see it in the spikes of the hyacinth, daffodils and jonquils as they start on their spring journey to life. The Carolina Jasmine already has life and fragrance with its yellow blooms. In the dead of winter we can always see pleasing hints of life.

A bit of weather lore to end February: February of 2017 only has four days remaining and to end the month, here is a bit of weather lore. This piece of lore says that if you see bees outside and about in late February, you can expect the next day to be full of wind and rain. February is not the month that we usually see bees but it is possible even though most bees are bundled close together in their hives or hollows. There are some fragrant Carolina Jasmine blossoms at the edge of the garden plot and we will keep an eye on them for the remainder of February to see what the odds are of seeing some bees.

Setting out a row or bed of cabbage plants: Cabbage plants are a tough cool weather vegetable that will thrive in late February garden plots. Most seed shops and hardware stores now have plenty of cabbage plants in four or six packs. Choose dark green leafy plants with bluish-green stems and not brown, dry or damped out. You can choose from Jersey Wakefield, Round Dutch, Stonehead, Chinese and Earliana. Plant cabbage plants about two to three feet apart so that you can keep the soil hilled up around them.

Taking care of winter over plants: The ferns, Christmas cactus, snake plants and other winter overs need a bit of special care in winter. Give them a weekly shot of liquid fertilizer every other week. Check the Christmas cactus if the foliage looks pink, it is a sign the cactus is receiving too much sun and needs to be moved further away from the window. Check the ferns and trim back runners if they over extend their containers.

Planning for a four o’clock season: When you order seed from catalogs, check to see the varieties of Four O’clock that are offered and order a couple of packets. Most hardware stores, seed stores, Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s have Four O’clock in their seed displays for around two dollars per packet and they come in a variety of colors and shades. Four O’clock grow in all types of soil and require very little care.

Planting a row of English peas or Early June peas: Any time in late February or early March, when the ground is not frozen, a pound of peas can be planted in the cold garden plot. English peas are a tough cool weather vegetable that will thrive in a late winter garden. You can choose from Alaska, Green Arrow, Sugar Snap and Lincoln.

A row of mustard greens for spring: March will be roaring in next week and that means it is time to sow a row or bed of curly mustard greens or a mix of mustard, kale, rape, spinach, tender green, turnip or broadleaf. The hardware or seed shop will mix these greens for you and one ounce will sow a four foot by eight foot bed and two ounces will sow a 50 foot row. You can harvest greens in only 55 to 60 days after planting in early spring.

Setting out a row of spring onion sets: Another early March cool weather vegetable that can be planted as March begins is the onion set. You can choose from red, white or yellow sets. Set the bulbs root side down about two to three inches apart. Cover the sets with a layer of peat moss and then with soil and tamp down gently with a hoe blade.

A quickie crop of mint green lettuce: Lettuce is one of the easiest and quickest vegetables to grow and it thrives in cold soil and produces a harvest in 45 to 50 days. A small bed and two packets of lettuce seed can produce a large crop. The packets cost about two dollars and the harvest of lettuce will continue into April.

A few winter snows protect the perennial flowers: Please don’t make light of snow in winter. We hope you are a snow lover and not a snow hater. They say there is no middle ground-you either love snow or hate snow. We know of many more reasons to love snow and here are some of the many! 1) It is Beautiful! 2) It is crystal white. 3) Kids love it! 4) It kills wintering insects in the garden plot 5) It insulates the garden plot in a blanket of white. 6) It is the main ingredient of “snow cream” 7) It generates excitement and expectation 8) It boosts the supermarket business and creates a greater craving for bread, milk, eggs and junk food! 9) Seriously, it makes perennial flowers really what they are – perennials! The snow covers the pots of perennials moderating the freezing temperatures and protecting from extreme cold with a white layer of nature’s insulation. We think it has a great effect on new growth for the upcoming season, plus it makes the containers resemble giant snow cones! 10) Last, but by no means least, a hefty snowfall brightens up a winter day, lifts the spirit, makes sunshine even brighter, radiates the snow-covered landscape and lets us know it’s winter!

Ray Baird

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