Even though the snow lays deep, my gardens are always in the forefront of my mind. I pass my kitchen garden every day on my way to the outdoor water spigot that supplies my layer flock with their daily drink. A lone head or two of kale waves forlornly above the snow line, waiting for the warmer days of April. The Raspberry fence that is the western edge of my garden has only three wire rows left before it too is swallowed by the drifts! I eye the old apple tree in the background, surveying it's branches, determining which need to go in order to create the perfect shape for maximum apple production. I have a fond memory of past pruning days, perched in the tree, feeling the warm March winds against my face, saw in hand watching the branches fall to the ground..only a few more weeks!
I had to rake the roof of my green house last week. The snow had become so deep around it, that it was no longer able to shed the new fallen snow. A crisis was looming! The snow had turned into ice and an interior section had torn, disabling the blower and the layers of plastic were sagging inward! I swam through hip high drifts to rake the peak and after an hour the house was clear and the banks were now 8 ft wide by 4 ft high! My little mixed greens, lettuces and herbs that have remained in suspended animation since the day light length went below 10 hours, were safe! It is an unheated green house and only the strong survive! I do continue to water and gave them all a shot of Neptune's sea mix the other week, encouraging them to stay strong until March!
I have yet to break open the seed catalouges that are piled deep on the dining room table. I won't start my seedlings until March. I need the night time temps to settle down to the low 40's, and that won't happen until at least 6 weeks from now. I start sets in my house on a heated seedling mat in trays and then transplant them to individual pots when the second set of leaves have emerged. After they harden off, they go off to the green house to become hardy little souls that will endure the vagaries of the Maine climate. I prefer my transplants to be on the young side, with vigorous young roots that will adapt quickly to the cooler spring soil. It makes for a hardier, healthier plant for my heavily planted kitchen garden. I also take the time to review my garden journal. I have a three year crop rotation plan and need to jog my memory as to what was planted where. I also review information about germination, insect problems, fruit set, etc. A well planned garden is a productive garden!
My actual, physical gardening now is house focused. I have hauled in a old bag of topsoil to plant up the spring bulbs that I didn't get into the ground in the fall. I am hopeful they will respond to light, soil and moisture and give me a colorful spring preview in about a month or so! I am also giving my few, hardy houseplants their monthly bath and prune. The smaller ones that I can move into the shower enjoy a nice spray of water that loosens the dirt and dust from their leaves that hinders their food production and attracts those little sucking insects like scale, mites and others. I discovered that rubbing alcohol,(not denatured!) does a nice job of eliminating scale when applied to them with a Q-tip. It took so time and effort, but was well worth it! My Jade has honored me with blooms in the past and I want to encourage that! They also have received their second feeding since their rest from Dec.- Jan. My Geranium has put on some vigorous new growth and I look forward to it's bright blooms in a few weeks! I also plant to pinch off some stems to produce some new starts for this years planters.
I also love the winter interest that my perennial gardens provide me. I enjoy watching the Miscanthus plumes moving in the winter winds, the tortured form on the Harry Lauder Walking Stick against the snow in my front yard, it's catkins waiting to burst forth in spring. The cinnamon colored bark of my climbing hydrangea is festooned with sparkling icicles and the brightly colored native residents such as cardinals, blue birds(yes!), blue jays and carolina wrens appear like ornaments placed in the trees for my enjoyment. I have noticed that the buds on the decidous trees are starting to swell, waiting for the right signal to awaken them. I long for spring, but relish the quiet time that nature offers up to us in the form of winter garden.