Category: Seasons

Soil Prep for Edibles

The first week of March definitely came in like a lamb this year with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. It was beautiful weather for working in the staff garden at the City Garden Home.

The soil needed some TLC after working hard all fall and winter. Vegetables are needy when it comes to soil. They require fertile, well draining ground for optimal growth. I like to refresh the soil after each growing season to replenish nutrients. Gardening is raised beds makes it easy. I take the existing soil and mix in well rotted manure and compost or humus. A good ratio is 2 parts soil to 1 part manure and 1 part compost.

As a final step Jobe’s Organics All Purpose fertilizer was added. This stuff is powerfully good at breaking down nutrients in the soil for plants to absorb.

This year is going to be the best yet for the staff garden.

 

Twigs, Barks and Berries

The Farmer’s Almanac had it right when they predicted a mild winter for Arkansas. We’ve only had a handful of nights below freezing and just one dusting of snow. That’s quite a difference from last year’s numerous winter storms.

This year’s more peaceful weather gives me more opportunities to be outdoors enjoying the quiet beauty in the garden.

The sister oaks. I love the bare, dark branches against the grey sky.

One of my favorite winter shrubs is Ilex decidua, a deciduous holly.

Red stems of 'Princess' peach trees.

I leave ornamental grasses uncut through winter for texture and wildlife. I'll cut them back in early February.

Arborvitae offers color throughout winter.

Get to Cleaning

One downside to living on a farm is I track in a lot of dirt. Everything in my house collects dust; I mean everything including my houseplants. Aside from looking grungy, a dirty plant can’t breathe because the pores in the leaves clog up. The solution is simple; give them a bath.

For small to medium plants you can just wash the leaves by wiping with a sponge or cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Add a little soap if the dust is really encrusted, but make sure you rinse it off. You can also wash houseplants at the sink. Hold your hands over the top of the pot to keep the soil in, and gently wash the foliage.

Or how about a shower? You can put large plants in the shower, but be easy with the water pressure. You don’t want to damage the leaves.

Now these techniques don’t apply to all plants. Plants with fuzzy leaves like African violets resent having water on their foliage. Use a dry brush to remove the dust.

Now remember whenever you are using these techniques involving soap, be sure you get it all rinsed off.

The next time you’re giving your plants a little TLC; don’t forget to give them a bath.

 

Winter Solstice

If you’ve been suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD), take heart because the winter solstice is tomorrow. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year and marks the start of winter. It also signals the beginning of more daylight hours, which is certainly reason to celebrate!

To mark the day I like to get my hands in the soil. Weather permitting, I’ll putter around the garden or I’ll plant something indoors like paperwhite bulbs or some sweetpea seed for placing in a cold frame. At dusk I’ll watch the sunset, turn on the Christmas tree lights and make a mental note that spring is just 90 days away.