My garden in January is covered with about 8 inches of snow. (Sigh.)
I did poke a few things into the soil before it froze rock-solid a few weeks ago, and before the snow then covered it. I planted about a dozen blue-spruce seedlings, and my Eager Energetic Spring Me will dig them up in the spring and re-plant them where other unfortunate trees, victims of the drought last summer, perished. Also I planted a large bed full of shallots and garlic (this is something you should do, too) in October and covered them with a thick layer of straw. Those will be the first things that come up in the spring, and I know that those dear little green shoots will throw me into paroxysms of delight. I will kneel down in the dirt and pinch off little bits and taste the fresh green oniony and garlicky tastes of early spring. Why would anybody react that way, you ask?
Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I live in Nebraska. Right now, as I write, it is about 5 degrees outside. The sun sets around 5:30 and so the evenings can be long and very, very dark. In the morning when I go outside to take care of our critters, it will be even colder, and the windchill will probably be below zero. I’ll have to carry warm water for the animals, and I’ll have to use a shovel to break the icy mud that has formed at the doorway of the chicken coop, basically entrapping my poor fowl inside. We have snow on the ground, and I’m thankful for it, but a thin layer on top has melted and refrozen, so the top layer is a sheet of ice, and every step could land me flat on my back. I’m not complaining. It could be worse, I know. But you see partially why I long for spring so intensely. It’s not that I hate winter. I don’t. I actually really love the snow, for example. The cold doesn’t really bother me once I get used to it. But I just like springtime so much more.
But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about my garden. I have a few things that I will do during the winter to prepare for my springtime garden. I’ll have to prod my Sluggish Pale Soft Winter Me to get these things done, but get them done I must. I shall start by making a list, and maybe that list will spur you onto action, as well. This month I will do the following:
1. I will buy copious amounts of mulch. Last year I ran out, and it was dry and hot, and boy, did my garden need that mulch that I didn’t buy enough of.
2. I will continue to care for my chickens and turn the straw/manure in their coop so that it will be lovely and rich and ready to spread on my garden, and ready to be tilled into the soil, in a month or two.
3. I shall ignore the jeers and taunts of those around me and I will buy more concrete reinforcing wire (or whatever it’s called) and I will make more tomato cages, even though–it is true–I already have many. The thing is (I shall explain it to you, Gentle Reader, so that you can more easily take my side) I always run short of tomato cages, and my lovely heirloom tomato plants that are left over have to climb up make-shift supports made out of old furniture, cattle panels, pieces of old bicycles and spare children and what-not, all tied together with baling twine. This seems not a fair way to treat plants that are doing their best to provide me with such luscious and beautiful fruit. But I will bear some ribbing when I make more cages, and also when I buy a couple of new cattle panels (they make excellent trellises for cucumbers, green beans, purple beans, and dried beans, and the like). My dad (who understands this longing for spring perfectly) told me only yesterday, in great glee, that he gets a 5% Senior Discount every Wednesday at the farm store, and that he’d be happy to take me shopping there. So next Wednesday, I’ll take my dad up on his offer, and then I shall take him out to lunch afterwards. I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t told him about it yet.
3. As soon as I complete a couple of other (odious) chores on my never-ending yellow legal pad to-do list, I’m going to take a complete leftover seed inventory, and then–
ta-da! I’ll pore over all the new seed catalogs, of which this one is my favorite:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company! Do you get it? If you don’t, you must! Beautiful photography, heirloom seeds, quirky writing: I just love it! I may not get to that for a few days, though. Until then:
I’ll dote on my one rosemary plant (it sits next to my sink, and cheers me) and enjoy the lushness of my succulent houseplants, of which I have way, way too many. But look!
The very, very happy succulent plants bloom, and that is a delight to see!
So, I want to hear from other gardeners out there–how do you make it through the long, dark winter? What’s happening in your garden in January?
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