LysmachiaMoon's blog: Snow; lots getting done

Posted on Jan 7, 2017 6:12 PM

We had snow overnight, about 1 inch, and cold temps today (only 33 at 10 a.m.), with a forecast of very cold weather ahead for the next few days. I suspect the gardening season is truly at an end now, except for pruning and inside work. Still, I got a lot done. Yesterday was very productive! I drove up to Penn National and brought home about 20 bags of that excellent ground up leaves/pine needles, grass clipping stuff....those bags are soooo heavy! I don't know what the fellow was thinking. I could barely budge most of them; then, because they are so heavy, when I tried to drag one across the lawn, it broke. Fortunately, this time I was a bit smarter than last...I brought a box of my own leaf bags with me and transferred the leaf mulch...one of his heavy bags to two of my own. Took a bit more time, but made it easier. I made two "runs", about 10 bags each. There's still about 20 bags left and I'd love to get them too, but the weather will determine that. Right now, the road in front of my house looks a bit "iffy" and up in P.N. it might be worse.

After bringing all that stuff home and piling it up near the dog kennel/greenhouse (I'll probably distribute in the spring). I set to work clearing brush in the planned Asian Garden. I decided to sort of mark out an area and work it. Made some good progress. I am now able to walk from "path to path." I'm hoping to start moving southward thru a very heavy tangle of brush and once that area (about 50x 50 feet) is cleared off, then the "bones" of the Asian Garden will be revealed. That area has some very interesting rock ridges and a few beautifully shaped autumn olives and bush honeysuckle already in place. My plan is to do minimal planting in there...I'd like to merely clean off the wild brambles and brush, perhaps expose the rocks a bit more with some judicious digging, then spot in a few ferns and, once things are going well, maybe some Japanese maples. It's one of those magical spots that doesn't really need a lot of work...it's beautiful in itself. When that area was part of the big commercial apple orchard, I always thought it was the prettiest spot...a sort of sheltered little "dell" dropping down into the shallow pit of the Fairy Glen. I wasn't the only one....both my ewes (when I had sheep) chose that spot to have their lambs, a total of four times.

I'm really lookign forward to the work there....it's "winter work"...a lot of clearing and cutting, there's some dead limbs to be taken down from the one surviving old apple tree...I'd love to save that old survivor.

***This morning was so lovely, the sun came out and the snow was just a sparkling blanket over everything. Perfect time to get some hot coffee and sit down with my bag of flower seeds and do an inventory. I have so many seeds! This year, instead of my usuall will-he, nil-he approach, I listed everything and then made notes on where it should be planted and how (direct seeded, in pots, etc.) I'm hoping if I get organized this year I'll actually get these seeds in the ground and have something to show for it! Last year I only managed to get the poppies, four o'clocks and sunflowers in the ground. Not a good showing.

It's hard to not start filling up pots of compost and planting seeds, but I'm not going to make THAT mistake again either. Unless one has a heated greenhouse, it's pointless to start seeds now...they come up, get straggly and end up useless wisps by end of February. I'm going to wait until mid-February to start most seeds.

This spring I'm trying something new: direct seeding my pak choi, chinese cabbage, and part of the cabbage crop. I was amazed last year that the direct seeded pak choi did FAR better than the seedlings I started weeks earlier in the house. By the time I was ready to set out the indoor-started pak choi seedlings, the direct seeded one were the same size and within a week were far bigger. I was told a long time ago that the earlier settlers in this region always direct seeded cabbages and even TOMATOES, so I'm game to try it with some of my cabbages. I'm still a bit leery of trying direct seeded tomatoes, but if the way my heirloom cherry tomatoes come up and grow by themselves every year is any indication, it probably will work just fine.

I am starting my sweet potatoes this week. I filled up two shallow boxes with compost and cut four or five medium sized sweets (from this year's harvest) lengthwise. I've got them sitting cut side up on the compost to dry out a day or two. Then I'll flip them over, cut side firmly pressed into the compost, cover the boxes with plastic wrap, and set them atop the kitchen cabinets. If all goes well, in a few weeks I should start to see some sprouts. I tried this method for the first time last year and was surprised at how much better it works than my old method: which was planting saved small slips from the harvest directly into pots and treating them as house plants. They usually grew fairly well, but a lot of them died off before it spring. And the method of starting a sweet potato in a jar of water...that's very iffy. Sometimes you get a nice plant, sometimes you get a slimey rotted mess.

Well, I have a vet appt at 2 p.m. so I think I'll run out and do some grocery shopping. The thing about cats is, you take them to the vet and you take them home. They don't like travel and there's no question of just "popping into" the supermarket on the way home.

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