The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Winter travels through its first week – The season of winter has traveled through its first week and already we have gained seven minutes of daylight even before the new year begins. We can expect colder nights, frozen mud holes, and snow and ice as we move closer to January 2018.

Black-eyed peas, collard greens or kale for New Year’s Day – New Year’s Day will be next Monday, January 1, 2018 and an old tradition is starting the year off with black-eyed peas and greens for good luck in the new year. If collards are not your favorite, you can cook up a pot of kale or mustard greens. Here is an unusual recipe for black-eyed peas: soak a 1 pound bag of black-eyed peas in six or eight cups of cold water for two hours or overnight. Drain the water and sort through the peas. Add one packet dried ranch dressing, 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (less if you desire), one can chicken broth or beef broth, 3 cups water, 1 tablespoon sugar, one stick light margarine, one teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer two hours until tender. Add more broth or water if needed. Serve with chow relish or red pepper relish.

Pulling out the 2018 seed catalogs – They have been piling up since long before Christmas just waiting for you to have the time to browse through them. With Christmas now over, the time has arrived to sit back, relax and see what’s new and unusual or even weird for the garden plot of 2018. Just remember: don’t buy any seed variety that you can buy locally because shipping and handling charges are added to every seed order.

A New Year in the garden plot of 2018 – As the new year comes in next week we wish you total success with every vegetable crop that you plant. Don’t be afraid to gamble and try new or different types of vegetables. You may discover that sometimes new is better.

Keep the Moravian Star brightly shining – Even though Christmas has passed, the season of Advent continues through January 6, 2018 which is the day of epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the wise men in Bethlehem to worship the Christ child. Keep the star shining through epiphany to light the way.

Getting ready for a season of white stuff – The new year is only a few days away and we can get down to the serious business of experiencing some snow, sleet, ice, or frozen rain any day now. Keep the snow shovels ready and buy a new ice scraper and deicer and some windshield washer with deicer in it. Another great idea is to store up a few extra cans of easily prepared food to have on hand if the power goes out. Keep some popcorn and snacks on hand for the kids in case they experience snow days.

The chore of taking down Christmas decor – It’s easier when taking down Christmas decorations to sort and organize and box items as you store them for next year. As you remove the ornaments from the tree, wrap them in sheets of newspaper or foil wrap and store them in a plastic moisture proof storage container and label it with a permanent marker. In another plastic storage container, store the roping and lights. Remove roping and wrap each strand on a section of newspaper rolled up vertically. Store strands in the container. Remove lights one string at a time. As you’re moving, plug it in and check for burned out bulbs and replace them so they will be ready for next year. Roll the string of lights on the section of newspaper wrapped vertically with the prong the end of the string at the outside of the strand. This will make it easier to plug strings one to another with no tangles next year. Place several sections of newspaper over the tree roping and lay the strings of lights on top of the newspaper sections. Label this plastic container. Use another plastic container to store wreaths, window candles, centerpieces, and place sections of newspaper between the wreaths. Do outside lights the same way and store in the separate plastic container.

A recycling resolution for the New Year – Place recycling at the top of the list of resolutions for the new year. Resolve to cut down on the amount of trash you generate. Recycle plastic milk cartons, soft drink cans, newspapers, cardboard boxes and containers. Include tin cans, cardboard tubes, glass bottles and jars. Always clean bottles, jars and cans before placing in the recycle bin.

Last chance to purchase a Christmas cactus – Another Christmas season is over but you still have time to purchase a Christmas cactus so that you can enjoy blooms next year and for many years to come. You can still find them in garden department at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart and local nurseries. Go ahead and buy a bag of cactus potting medium and large container to get the cactus off to a great start.

Check out the turnip patch for New Year’s dinner treat – Turnips thrive in the cold of the winter garden plot and the cold even sweetens them. Harvest a pot full for your new year supper.

Purchase your 2018 Blum’s Almanac – If you did not get a Blum’s Almanac for Christmas, they are still in stock at all hardware stores in our area. They cost around six dollars and are a must for gardeners. They are filled with practical advice, planting advice, information or moon phases, solar and lunar eclipses, recipes, sunrises and sunsets. It is a daily gardeners and farmers information guide.

Ray Baird