A Gardener’s Diary: Planning with enthusiasm

It's not too early to think about spring planting, by starting to plan the garden now

With the first column of 2014, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all of you a very happy new year. May these coming days be filled with good health, joy and peace.

Not much snow on the ground so far, not that I complain but it is better for the plants to have a good blanket of snow to survive the freezing nights and cold winds. The other day with the sun shining, I had to open the greenhouse door as it was 21C. I wished I could have sat in there but with all the plants, I can barely put my foot in it.

All the geraniums I brought in for the winter are doing very well. I just took the inventory of my plants the other day and came up with 231 in the house. All the windows except the ones facing north have plants. The Christmas cactus is in full bloom. Just for the occasion, on Christmas Day I had one Angel trumpet opening. This was the only branch left with leaves as I remove all the leaves in the fall when I bring it in or I have to fight the white flies.

If you overwinter dahlias and other tubers, this is a good time to check on them. If you find anything moldy, better discard it. If the tubers are getting too dry and shriveling, give them a spray of water. I just noticed that one of my begonias is showing a bit of growth. I will keep an eye on it and if it is growing too fast, I will have to pot it up. I have a pail of potting soil which I can bring from the shed if things are moving too fast.

No sign of life yet on all the tulip bulbs I planted in pots last fall. I just hope they survived the winter in the shed. The pots are stored in cardboard boxes with newspaper and piled on top of each other and the whole thing is wrapped in Remay cloth. Because the shed is not heated and it was freezing in December, I don’t know yet how they will do. Now is a very good time for my resolution of the new year. Make sure I have the space in the garden for the plants I get and try to plant them in the ground before it freezes hard. Also I will try to keep the number of plants I overwinter to less than 100.

Last summer I planted some marigold seeds way too late in the season. Of course they made it in the house in the fall. It is nice to have these little flowers blooming, just to look at them and I can forget that this is January. In the next week or so, I will start planning my garden for the summer. I like to rotate my vegetables so I have to create new space. Keeping records also shows the successes and the failures of the past seasons.

About five to six years ago, a friend gave me some goldfish. I keep them outside in the summer but for the winter, I used to keep them in the basement.  Every time I changed the water, I used it to water the plants. In December, I finally got an aquarium and the last three goldfish that have survived the seasons now have a nice little home with a filter. Come late spring, they will get back outside with my water lilies…maybe.

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Vernon Morning Star