Kate Stephenson is a retired writer who can’t seem to keep her thoughts to herself. She is clearly obsessed with growing all manner of plants, especially vegetables and other edibles. See for yourself if her enthusiasm for gardening is contagious!
Kate's Corner for December
I don’t know how they affect you, but “The Holidays” leave me tired and blue. I have on various occasions tried all kinds of ways to deal with them: Ignore them; party like there’s no tomorrow; have a low-key gathering; or go on a cruise. Next year I swear I’m going to volunteer somewhere to cook or serve or help some group somehow. Maybe that’s the answer! The ole’ home front doesn’t help much, either. This time of year, nothing is blooming except some very hardy weeds. Some little vegetarians (rabbits, I suspect) got into what was left of the winter kale and stuff and ate everything right down to the ground. So I need to get seeds out of their sleeping packs and into the seed starter trays in the greenhouse. That’ll cheer me up! It always does. More Seed Catalogs are coming in the mail, too, and everybody knows how I love that. Bet I’m not alone. Every gardener I know loves Seed Catalogs. And Bulb Catalogs, and Tree and Shrub Catalogs, and Fruit and Nut Tree Catalogs, and …. The PAGC meeting this month involves a “Seed Exchange”, and I guess if a person wants to get some seeds they have to give some seeds. I wonder if I can bear to part with any. There must be something I can share. Some plants that we grow just beg to have their seeds collected and dried. Of course, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show is next month, so there is that to anticipate. I’m going to try and talk myself out of going at all this year because I have this quirky habit of BUYING TOO MUCH! I’m sure you never do that. Or, you’d never fall in love with some exotic and temperamental plant, one that’s been forced to bloom out of season or worse yet, too tender to be outside in this nasty weather. How do you get it from the show to your nice warm greenhouse (or sunroom) without shocking it to death? Right. I would never admit it either. Okay, so what can we do in January? Oh, sure, all that cleanup is still to do. That’s no fun. But what can we plant? If you’re talking about planting seeds or setting out baby plants in the garden, it’s too early. It is time, however, to start some varieties of seeds in the greenhouse or sunroom to plant outside in a couple months. You know which ones. Plant any kind of lettuce or green, onions or leeks from seeds, winter squash for next fall, etc. You can start anything in your greenhouse if it’s warm enough for the little darlings to germinate. Don’t forget flowers, too. It’s a great time to start seeds of spring and summer annuals. Some of them, like violas and pansies, will germinate in lower temperatures. They actually won’t germinate if it’s warm. You can find out specifics online, or look on seed packets. What? You’re waiting for the chicken story? Hmmm, let me think. Our girls are mostly still on winter vacation and not laying. In fact, I will need to buy some eggs this week! But they still expect treats and goodies, not to mention being let out whenever there is a ray of sunshine! They do wait, however, for a path to be shoveled through the snow to a sunny spot. They are very suspicious of the snow. It’s not that their feet will freeze, you know. Birds' legs have a network of arteries called "rete mirabile" (miraculous net) that minimizes heat loss in their legs and especially their feet! Lucky them, huh? We could all use that in the dregs of winter. Some people keep lights on in the winter to fool their chickens into laying all year. But a hen has only so many eggs in her body, so that only wears them out sooner. We don’t do that, since our girls are pets, and eggs and manure are bonuses. So we’re not really chicken ranchers. Just eccentric folks who keep odd pets. Oh, there’s a meeting I need to get ready for, so I must be gone.