The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Checking the rosebushes in the dead of winter – As we move further into the winner, the roses can use a little tender loving care. A fresh layer of crush leaves for protection and a small drink of water during the week when there is no precipitation. Large canes and spent blooms should be removed. If ice storm comes, take a broom and beat off the heavy ice particles. If we have heavy snow, sweep it off the rosebushes before it freezes.

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away – The florist and big box stores are decked out in red, pink, and white in preparation for the day of hearts, flowers and chocolate. On a cold January afternoon, spend time browsing through the local florist shop and order the perfect roses or potted florals for your special Valentine. A great choice is a potted azalea that can later be transplanted outside. Other gifts to consider are candy, jewelry, perfume, restaurant gift certificates, CDs and iTunes and when all else fails a plastic gift card of any amount is always a gift that is sure to please.

Very unusual heart on edge of the garden plot – Something else that is green in the midst of January is the appearing of the dark green heart shaped leaves of the American Violet. They grow in clumps near the garden plot. An interesting way to start an usual perennial is to fill a pot with fine potting medium and plant a clump of American Violet in it and place it on the porch or deck. In the next six weeks, the plant will produce purple or white American Violets and bring fragrant scents to your porch or deck.

Spring appears at many seed shops, hardwares and big box stores – Spring is as close as the local hardware, seed store, Walmart’s or Home Depot. Racks of packets of flower and vegetable seed make colorful displays. Weed eaters, the latest in new lawnmowers, both push and riders appear in the garden apartments. All early evidence that many businesses are already thinking spring. Even though it’s a while before seeds can be safely planted, it’s not too early to buy a few packets each week. A good idea is to have a small box with a lid on it to store the seed packets in and place the box in a place warm and dry where you will not forget where it is. Every week when seeds are found and purchased, organize them in the box and keep inventory of what you have.

Keeping lawnmowers and tillers cranked during winter months – In winter, lawnmowers, tillers and weedeaters need to be started and let them run for a minute or two. It is a great idea to start the riding mower and with blade disengaged, drive around the lawn a few times to warm it up and get everything in running order.

January begins the season of hard freezes – We may not like them, but hard freezes are good for the garden plot. When the ground freezes, snow will stick to the ground and keep it frozen which means pests and insects that are wintering over, and hopefully decrease their population. The hard freezes will destroy many micro organisms and fungal diseases in the soil. My grandma in Northampton County always said when the weather gets cold enough for the ground to freeze, it is cold enough to get rid of many germs that cause flu and other viruses.

Preparing for a heavy snowfall in January – We are looking forward to a beautiful white January snowfall that covers the lawn, the garden plot, the woodlands and beautifies the whole winter landscape. This is the kind of snow that will make a great snowman and a bowl of snow cream and make the lawn and trees crinkle when night comes in makes new fallen snow look like diamonds on a street light shine down on them. There’s a certain quietness in the snow that makes all the other sales of winter louder, like children playing in the snow in North wind whistling outside the door and crows cawing in the distance. Nothing cleanses the environment and beautifies the landscape like January snow.

Making 2018 a year of the four o’clock‘s – We mentioned earlier in the column about the seed displays in hardware is in stores. You can now purchase packets of four o’clock‘s from these seed racks for less than two dollars a packet. Four o’clock‘s come in colors of red, yellow, pink, purple and white. They thrive in all types of soil and will bloom from late spring all the way until frost. You can order them from Parks and Burpee seed in speckled and shaded varieties.

Taking care of wintering house plants – The panda fern, snake plant, asparagus fern, and Christmas cactus are thriving in the sunny living room. We have to trim the ferns once a month to keep them from growing over their containers. We stick our finger in the soil to check how much water needs. It is always great to have something green and growing inside during winter.

Ray Baird