The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Begin the new year by checking out the Christmas cactus – The four Christmas cactus have bloomed in the living room where they have been wintering over since mid-October. As we go into the new year, we will pull all spent flowers and give them a drink of liquid fertilizer to boost them. If the foliage on your cactus has a pink or red tint it is sending a signal that it is getting too much sunlight. All you need to do is move it a little further from the sunny window and this should solve the problem. Water the containers every 8 to 10 days.

White snow and red cardinals: Pretty combination on a cold January morning – A beautiful red cardinal stands out on a snow-white landscape on a January morning. They are colorful birds all year long, but bright white snow makes them glow with color.

Cold frozen ice is the recipe for January – January can be a mixed bag of ingredients and even though the ground may freeze, we can still have some sunny days with blue skies and temperatures above freezing. We are unlike the Midwest and upper Midwest where they get foot deep snows in the ground remains white until late April to early May. In Minnesota, when the last snowfall comes in April, some of the first snow of November to early December is still on the ground. New England also gets their share of snow which brings us to a piece of weather lore from that area of the country. If the weather forecast in January is cold and gray, it will be winter all the way until the month of May.

A bit of unwelcome green on winter’s landscape – The pesky, but tough chick weed is appearing around the rosebushes and garden plot. An advantage of this weed is that it has very shallow roots and it can easily be pulled up and got rid of very quickly. We especially hate it when it tries to overtake the roses.

Welcome the Carolina jasmine – We love the Carolina jasmine and its evergreen foliage that enlivens the winter garden landscape and also it’s bright yellow flowers that bloom in late January and several other times during the year. When they bloom in January, the cold winter wind blows their fragrance perfume across the garden to the back porch bringing fresh life to the cold in dead of winter. The beauty of the Jasmine is that it has thick foliage that can be trimmed and shaped. The thick foliage makes the bush a great place for birds to hide in build a nest.

The bulbs of spring are sleeping – The bulbs of daffodils, jonquils, and tulips as well as crocus are now in a winter sleep. On a sunny January afternoon, take the sprinkle can and pour some water over the area where they are planted. Sprinkle a few handfuls of bone meal on them before watering to give them an extra boost. And mid to late February, many of them will begin spiking up.

Harvesting turnips in mid-January – With a layer of crushed leaves, giving protection from winter extremes the turnip bed is still in production. A pot of mashed turnips with bacon bits and light margarine is a welcome addition to the supper table in mid-January.

Keeping furnace filter cleaned or changed during winter – For cleaner heat and efficient operation of your heating system, clean or change the filter once each month. Keep an extra filter on hand next to the furnace. With a permanent black marker write the size of the filter on the side of the furnace exterior.

Keeping bird baths and feeders filled – The birds of winter are very active in the winter as they search for food and many days when it is dry. They also search for water. You can help be their source by keeping the birdbaths filled with fresh water when temperatures rise above freezing each day. Keep seed in the feeders and sprinkle several handfuls on the ground for smaller birds.

Late January opportunity for pruning grapevines – In mid to late January, grapevines have no leaves and are completely dormant and all long runners can easily be pruned. Contrary to many opinions, late winter is an opportune time to prune grapes because they are dormant and they will not die or bleed too much sap.

A mix of green, white, and brown, in the January garden plot – in January there is color contrast in the garden plot with green onion sets, cabbage, collards, broccoli, turnips and kale added to the snow frost and crushed leaves. Life is prevalent in the garden of winter!

Ray Baird