Dreams of Greener Days in the Veggie Garden

January 11, 2013

Well, I really didn’t blow off the landscape as Hurricane Sandy made her rounds back in October, and thanks to everyone who inquired into how everything turned out. The garden and the beehives survived just fine and Pennsylvania actually wasn’t as hard hit by the storm as were parts of New York and New Jersey.

Things have been quiet around here for the past two months as I took some time away from blogging to focus on other things, but all is well and I’ve been saving up ideas for new articles and planning on ways to improve this website during my break in posting.

Looking Forward to the Return of Springtime in the Garden

Snow Covered GardenWinter has really just started but it isn’t too early to begin thinking about next season’s vegetable garden. And despite any cold, ice, and snow that may be in the weather forecast spring’s return is only a couple short months away.

I was reminded of that last weekend as I watched the honeybees taking brief flights outside their hives during the warmest part of the afternoon. I’m sure they enjoyed the opportunity to stretch their wings and move around a bit after being clustered inside for weeks. It was also an opportunity for me to evaluate how they are making out so far during their winter break.

It was a big surprise to see a dozen robins hanging around in the front yard in spite of the snow on the ground and the calendar reading early January. When I spotted the first one last Friday I didn’t get a real good look at it and could have been convinced that it was merely a dream or hallucination induced by winter’s arrival.

But there they were again the following day. This time there was no doubt about it and I had my camera nearby. It’s not the best photo but you canWinter Robin clearly make out the familiar robin with snow lying in the foreground. I don’t know where they came from, how long they will stick around, or where they are headed, but it was an unusual site to see at this time of year!

Winter Activities for the Backyard Gardener

Out in the snow covered garden there are still plenty of root crops that can be harvested whenever the frozen ground thaws enough to sink a digging fork into the earth. There are also leafy greens hiding underneath the snow and others sitting comfortably inside the cold frames. With extremely mild temps in the forecast this weekend I will get a chance to take a closer look and maybe forage for some fresh produce.

The first vegetable seed catalogs arrived before Thanksgiving and now I have a pretty tall stack of them to sort through and place orders from. I didn’t notice any new seed suppliers but am sure that I will find some interesting “new” heirloom seed varieties to try out this season.

In addition to ordering seeds other winter tasks on my to-do list include cutting hardwood logs for use in cultivating mushrooms next season, early seed starting for hardy spring crops, taking inventory of my organic gardening supplies, and catching up on reading a few beekeeping and gardening books that I haven’t found time for up to now.

Upcoming Events to Cure the Winter Blues

On the local scene the Pennsylvania Farm Show takes place this week here in Harrisburg, PA at the Farm Show Complex. This annual program draws a huge crowd but I have to confess that I have never attended even though it is nearby. Other agricultural events such as PASA Farming Conference and the spring garden shows are coming up in the next couple months as well.

Lime and lemon treesWinter has not been able to wipe away every trace of green from my life as I moved a number of potted herb plants and tropical edibles indoors. A bay laurel tree, guava plant, Aloe Vera  and a date palm spend the winter in a spare bedroom, while citrus trees occupy a corner of the dining room. The lemon has a few ripe fruit and the lime tree is covered with perfumed flower blossoms.

Stay tuned as things will be heating up around here soon and the site will look more like someone regularly writes here! I’m working on a couple of articles about winter gardening, intend to visit and take photos of the PA Farm Show today, and am planning a post on how the snow can teach one a lot about the garden and the micro-climates within your landscape.

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  • David

    Wow, following your weather it reminds me of how lucky we are in Ireland, wet is far better than the odd Hurricane and lots of snow!

  • Kenny Point

    The snow isn’t too bad and hurricanes are not usually an issue here in the Northeast. Many parts of the U.S. receive much harsher weather than we do with frequent tornadoes, colder temperatures, flooding, and shorter growing seasons so I won’t complain too much.

  • I looked into growing mushrooms in logs for a while. Never got around to it. Funny how we have all these great ideas we want to try, but it takes 4 or 5 things coming together at the same time, and that doesn’t always happen.

    I love your potted lemon and lime trees. 2 years ago I planted lemon, lime, tangerine and orange seeds, just for the fun of it. The leaves are so beautifully shiny and thick. You feel good just looking at them.

  • Kenny Point

    I love the citrus trees also! Was surprised at how well they have performed and that they have actually yielded fruit. They are very beautiful plants and tolerate spending the winters indoors here in PA.

  • I live in PA as well and I can’t wait till spring. I’ve always wanted to try those dwarf citrus trees, but honestly never thought I’d have any success this far north.

  • Kenny Point

    Andrew, as long as you have a place to over winter them indoors they will do fine. I keep them in my dining room next to a French Door and have a single grow light bulb above them to supply a little extra light.

  • Good job taking care of the plants in winter.

  • Its suppose to freeze every night here in the south this week. Lucky for me, i remembered to bring in the aloe vera (wife would have killed me.) I’m really looking forward to diving into the garden this spring.

  • Kenny Point

    Good thing that you remembered to bring the aloe inside… at least they are very easy to keep alive during the winter months inside the home… spring will be here sooner than you expect… I’ll be starting to plant some seeds in another week or two!

  • Barbee

    Welcome baaaaaack! Glad to see you! Was getting a bit concerned-but all too normal for a one to take time off for the holidays! Get all rested up for Tax Time.
    …after you post that story about winter gardening. It’s a fascinating subject.

  • Read your article, inspiring me to do better,
    I’m looking forward to writing the next

  • Kenny Point

    Thanks Barbee, hope all is well and a lot warmer down south with you!

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