Guest Columunist - Bettylou Sandy
With the deep cover of snow and the cold temperatures of this winter, it is hard to imagine the perennial vegetables and flowers are sleeping now. Their root systems are growing to prepare for spring that will surely come. The seeds dropped from the plantings of last year are snuggled beneath the blanket of snow, waiting for the warm sun to encourage them to sprout their heads and feet to bring forth their splendor of the season.
This is the time we gardeners get anxious for the soil to be available to us again. This is the time we long to work the earth and see things grow under our care. I am glad late January and February are the best times to transplant our indoor plants, cut forsythia to bloom in the house, start seedlings inside for later transplanting and look at the seed and tool catalogs!
I look outside at the abundance of snow and wonder how long the piles will be there in the spring. I also look at the deep snow and remind myself that this is an insulating blanket that will help my gardens and plants to stay safe and warm. This will be the promise of good moisture for my plants in the spring. After the hottest and driest summer in a very long time, I am grateful for the snow! I am reminded that “snow is the farmer’s fertilizer”, as it also provides some nitrogen.
I am planning for my gardening year now. I am committing myself to keep better records of what I plant and how much harvest I am able to produce in each section. I have not been as good with my records in the past and am going to try, again. I try growing new things each year and receive many plants from a variety of people. I experiment with a variety of methods for growing vegetables and modify my classes and talks based on my discoveries, given in general terms. This year I will keep better documentation.
I have met many gardeners who keep a gardening journal. Some have records of flowers, plants, shrubs and trees they have nurtured for many years. Even the weather is recorded in these journals, to be a handy resource. A garden journal is a valuable resource to refer to when we are discouraged by the weather patterns, some bug or blight in the garden, or our own midseason weariness in the summer. It is worth a try.
There are so many resources available to us these days. Winter is a time to take advantage of these, as we have more time to browse and plan. The CT NOFA website is a fine place to start. It has so much to offer, as well as links to a variety of places of interest. Also Plan to attend the CT NOFA Winter Conference at Manchester Community College on March 5th for over 30 seminars, a keynote speaker and many vendors of interest, all in one, wonderful day.
It is my hope that this cold, snowy winter will bring the promise of a better gardening year ahead for us all. Winter is a time to regroup and look ahead to the bounty before us. The snow is a good insulator and really makes the world a little brighter in the dark months. Spring is coming!
January 2011 Bettylou Sandy of “Bettylou’s Gardening” in Manchester Connecticut