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January in the Garden

Posted Jan 22 2009 5:13pm

Thyme for the Garden Header

O dreary January, gray skies, bitter cold, snowy day...

I'm so glad you're here! Finally I have time to sit next to the fire with my cup of peppermint tea surrounded by my seed catalogs. Pencil, ruler, notebook, and graph paper are at the ready to capture dreams of new garden spaces.

PH03688I This is a great time for this column to start. We can get to know each other and share ideas before the real chores of the garden begin. I have already received six seed catalogs. Just in time... My daughter announced her engagement a couple weeks ago. The outdoor wedding, planned for the end of May, will have a wildflower theme. Now I'm thinking of dedicating about 10 feet of my 20' x 30' vegetable bed to a wildflower garden cutting garden.

NoPansyHere Even though January has more cold, dreary days than bright, sunny ones, there are tasks to be done.

Inside the house, it's time to increase humidity for houseplants. An inexpensive vaporizer or cool mist humidifier will help. Poinsettias should be placed in sunny windows. Peruse seed catalogs for new plants to try this spring.

In the deep south, it's time to order seed potatoes. Or if you save your own, they should be set out now for greening. They sprout best on a window ledge that is warm and bright, but not sunny.

In areas of the mid-south, where early narcissus bloom in late January, peas and hardy root crops may be planted. The soil from South Carolina to the Gulf should be prepared for planting late this month and next month.

In the upper south and northward, it's not too late to spread manure on the vegetable patch. To prevent loss of nitrogen, scatter the manure on top of the snow where it will sink in and benefit from later snows. Asparagus will especially do well from a heavy cover of manure at this time.

HensAndChicks Out on the foggy West Coast, artichoke beds can be started. North of San Francisco, the bed should be covered with a good winter mulch. Garlic and onion sets may be started along with seeds of kale, peas, collards, and turnips.

For those of us who still have ice and deep snow, we'll just sit by the fire sipping our tea and dreaming of fun new varieties to plant in the spring. Organic gardeners need to remember to save all the wood ashes to use in the spring, keeping them dry to preserve their potash content. Fruit trees and Irish potatoes will benefit from an application in the spring as the potash helps develop starches and sugars.

Gardening as Home-Keeping

 All the ideas we share in this gardening column, the comments section, and the Christian Women Take Root group are part of the call I see in Titus 2. Everything we do is important if it helps another woman fulfill her own call as a woman of faith. I love that some of the things we can do are as much fun as gardening.

Right now it seems a bit early to be thinking about gardening, with snow covering the top half of North America, but there is always a good time to think/work on gardening. Some of my favorite plants that I grew for several years was violets. I had a trio that I bought from the vegetable section at Wal-Mart. They were tiny, in self-watering pots. I put them in the kitchen window and had lovely faces blooming up at me in shades of purple for several years. They only succumbed when I transplanted them and didn't do the watering thing correctly. In this I could have used a mentor.

My personal passion is to grow good things to eat. I love edible flowers to spice up a salad. I love herbs to make into tea. I love plants that help one stay healthy. I would enjoy becoming better at growing plants indoors. I have a couple of palms I'm nursing through the winter, hoping they survive my ministrations until warm weather returns. I'm pretty sure the three Boston ferns from my front porch will need a lot of babying after a season in my sunroom.

T4tg-header-sm-tile One of my favorite ways to pass the cold days is to read gardening magazines, online columns, and books. I've designed a corresponding web site for this column with the same name, Thyme for the Garden. Already listed are seed and plant sources, a few virtual garden tours, a USDA plant hardiness zone map, and some great information for herbal teas. Read and enjoy the rest of your January...gardening for real, or just on paper!

Awake, O north wind, and come thou south!
Blow upon my garden,
that the spices thereof may flow out...

~Song of Solomon 4:16
Patricia's Sig

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