Writer / Carrie Petty
Planning and dreaming a bit is what I am doing during the deep, slumber month of January. Pouring through seed catalogs and drafting my new garden designs in sketch books over a good Merlot. But, February … February is a gardener’s month. Hard to believe, I know. When you garden, your winter is shorter! My “sap” starts to rise as a gardener, there are many chores to be accomplished, and I am seeing daily glimpses of what’s to come: SPRING!
As the days are now growing longer, I get out in the yard on the clear days. It feels a bit like cleaning your house. You start in one spot and move your way through the whole plot. I keep a pair of pruners on the right side of my hip pocket, and I always wear gloves so Rose, my manicurist won’t yell at me. She keeps my green thumbs presentable.
Picking up winter debris and pruning the broken branches the birds have left me from plucking berries in the late fall, these are first on the list of tasks. I find the base of the tree with my eye and move up as far as I can reach. Sharp tools are a necessity. I love to see the “branching order” of anything that has limbs. This is where the artist in me comes into play. I get to construct the shape of the tree, decide how high to take her canopy — up from the bottom layer of her beginning branches. If a plant blooms early in the spring, like forsythia, redbud, rhododendron, azalea, lilac, magnolia and others … don’t touch them until post bloom. But most importantly, get out there. Don’t sweat it too much. I have made so many bad cuts and wrong moves in the garden. That’s how we grow.
February 1 is marked in my gardening journal as the day I begin sowing new seeds for early spring crops, often called, “cold crops,” such as spinach, kohlrabi, lettuce, chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. I don’t have a large vegetable garden, but I began trying one out in the front yard of my Geist home. It’s in a subdivision. No veggies allowed in the front yards.
I am a rule-breaker by nature.
The book I am currently working on is called, “The Wilderness Rebel” for a reason. Note: Now don’t go breaking your neighborhood association rules, but I have but a few herbs and low profile veggies among the flowers.
Last year I had wonderful success with purple kohlrabi. It taste like potatoes to me. I also had great success with many herbs. However, most of these I do not start from seed. I love to cook with herbs, and I feel this is a very good place for any beginning gardener to try their hand at growing something beautiful and edible. Herbs are very forgiving. They like a tough life. Most are originally from the Mediterranean region where the soil is pretty brutal. Oregano, thyme, basil and rosemary are good starters, and they are easy to use in pasta and on pizza. These, along with parsley, chives and cilantro are a must. Cilantro has a split personality; if you let it grow tall in the center and begin to flower it decides to turn into coriander. I find that utterly perplexing. The seed of coriander is cilantro. Who knew?
Most importantly, make sure you buy a beautiful gardening journal to take notes. I love looking back over my notes — favorite things to jot down for me are the nature sightings. In January I saw a bee, his survival skills tickled me so much I laughed until lunchtime. Nature has taught me how to survive, and most importantly, she has taught me how to live a “Beautiful Life.”