The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Valentine’s Day is only six days away – There’s only six days left to search for the perfect valentine for your wife, sweetheart, kids or grandkids. The stores and flower shops are still well-stocked. If you run out of time to shop for your Valentine, you can always choose gift cards for any amount or a gift certificate from a favorite restaurant. The most important thing is that you remember your Valentine!

We are waiting for some February snow – We are well into the cold month of February and are anxiously awaiting for some of the white stuff to fall and cover the winter landscape with a big blanket of white. It will be good for the lawn and also the garden plot. It will be bad news for bugs and insects wintering over in the sleeping garden, the good news for kids and snow lovers. There’s nothing more exciting than that of waiting for a snow.

Making a batch of Carolina snow cream – My mother was a snow lover and an eastern North Carolina when we had a snow, she would always make a bowl of snow cream. There is nothing quite as cold as a bowl of snow cream on a winter night. Here is mom‘s recipe for Carolina snow cream. Beat four large eggs until fluffy, and one large can of evaporated milk and 3 cups regular milk, 2 cups of sugar, 3 teaspoons of real vanilla flavoring, a pinch of salt. Mix all together until well blended. Gather part of new fallen snow. Scrape off the top layer of snow to make sure it is clean when you fill the pot. Add snow to the milk mixture until the cream gets as thick as you desire. You can make a lighter, low calorie version of snow cream by using low fat and skim milk and Splenda to sweeten the snow cream. You can also freeze leftover snow cream in the covered plastic bowl.

Waking up the sleeping lawnmower or weedeater – The riding lawnmower in winter needs to be started every week, during the months of winter and it would not do any harm to leave the blade disengaged and drive it around the lawn several times to keep battery and mower operating in cold weather and assure good starts in the spring mowing season arrives. Start weedeaters each week because they may be needed because some weeds grow in winter.

Even in February, a few early signs of spring – Spring 2018 is still almost 6 weeks away, but a few signs of spring are in our midst. The heart shaped leaves of the American violet are appearing on the edge of the garden. We are getting an extra minute a daylight every evening. Robins are bouncing around the lawn. The green spikes of jonquils are showing up on the front lawn. There is still much winter remaining, but it is also easy to look for spring as nature begins early transition to another season.

Filling feeders and emptying ice from bird baths – Birds of winter are still looking for freshwater and a ready supply of food. Sometimes we can be their source of water and food and make their search rewarding. On winter days after temperatures rise, empty the ice from bird baths and refill with freshwater. Do this each day to assure them of water supply. Add food to the feeders each day and scatter a few seeds on the lawn for larger birds.

Taking care of asparagus and panda fern – The asparagus and panda ferns are thriving in the sunny, living room. They are developing shoots and we trim them once a month. They are low maintenance and only require a drink of water once a week as they receive sunlight through the living room window.

Gambling on the lettuce bed in February – Lettuce is a cold-weather crop and with a bit of protection from a plant cloth, you can enjoy raising a bed of lettuce in the dead of winter. A pack cost around two dollars and you can choose from iceberg, black seeded Simpson, green ice and many other varieties. When planting a lettuce bed, add a little peat moss to control the moisture of the soil and prevent freezing. Keep the plant cover on the bed. If water is needed, use the spray bottle to apply it.

Checking furnace filters during winter – Check furnace filters every few weeks during winter. Keep an extra filter near the furnace and replace when needed. This will make the unit perform better and also make your homes air fresher with less dust and pollutants.

Keep windshield clean during winter – Clean your vehicles windshields and other vehicle windows several times a week. Never leave the house with any snow or ice on any vehicle window. Keep washer fluid with deicer in it and keep the washer filled each week. Keep an extra ice scraper on hand in case one breaks while using.

Ray Baird