Clearly you had some hot young thing keeping you company this season and forgot you had a job to do!
Whether we like it or not (and I hate it), Winter serves a very important purpose in a plant’s life cycle. “Chilling hours” are the required amount of hours spent in temperatures below 45F that a plant needs in order bloom once conditions become optimal.
Think about it like this, you wake up in the morning and get ready for your day and you spend the next 8-12 hours working hard, when you come home at night you are ready to sleep and rest up so you can produce as much (if not more) tomorrow. Pants wake up in Spring and spend the next 2 to 9 months trying to make as many babies as they can. The first frost is a signal that they can finally rest! Imagine if your alarm clock kept ringing while you were trying to sleep, when it was finally time to wake up, you wouldn’t feel like doing anything. Same thing with a tree, when it’s time to produce, flowers and fruits may be stunted, or you may have a low yield.
So what can you do to protect your garden during an abnormally warm Winter?
I have no idea….how have you been able to cope? Have you been making more trips to the grocery store? Have you seen a spike in prices? Have your eating habits changed? Did your Spring garden plans change?
I can’t wait to hear your tips and tricks!
Volunteering event at Mission Branch Library in San Antonio, TX
I thought they were weeds but perhaps they are something more…
Old Man Winter is slowly creeping toward San Antonio, turning our 80F days into 40F nights faster than you can say, “bring in the geraniums!” My garden is especially feeling the pain. The Dreamland Zinnias I fell in love with over the summer succumbed to a night where the mercury dipped below 40F. I made the grizzly discovery as I was on my way to school…
Just yesterday the pink, coral, and orange blossoms danced brilliantly in the shadow the house cast over them. The flowers, healthy and strong, stood tall in the cold wind gusts, laughing at the doddering Old Man as he inched ever close. Everyday the temperature dipped, two degrees here, ten degrees there but of course in the face of danger the novice will laugh. Oh that bitter bark of impetuousness!
The frost damage sucked the color right out the flowers, leaving behind wilted brown skeletons. It was as if Death himself so admired my garden that he put his nose cavity to each bloom, inhaling their delicate scent while simultaneously sucking their life away…
Oh well! This frees up space for my next idea where I’m playing with textures, scents, and groundcovers (lamb’s ear, artemisia, and something else not sure what though…what would you recommend?). And all the area nurseries are having their season’s end clearance sales! #winning!
It’s not too late, Southerners, to get in a few winter plants. And don’t forget to pick up those bulbs. What would you like to do with your garden over the winter?
So if you haven’t had a chance to check out the video “In the Greenhouse” hop on over to YouTube and let me know what you think.
Here’s an update of what has been going on during the first week of planting.
I love these little greenhouses because it is a quick way to get seeds started. Some of the seeds germinated the next day!
When using these greenhouses there are some things you should be aware of:
- Peat smells like light manure. Be wary of where you place the greenhouse.
- Don’t place it in direct sunlight until you see sprouts.
- Take the plastic cover off when you notice the sprouts are tall enough to touch it.
- Don’t use tap water. The chlorine in the water can have negative consequences on seed germination. Look for distilled water, nursery water, filtered water, basically anything that’s not chlorinated. You’ll need about 3-6 gallons to carry you through the first month.
Mistakes I made that you can avoid:
- Before I started I wish I would have planned the arrangement of the seeds more thoroughly. The sun flowers at the end germinated first and crowded the smaller spinach sprouts; the nasturtiums took off just as fast and crowded the swiss chard. This will make transplanting the sprouts harder and I may have choked the smaller plants off from getting the proper amount of sun light and water. *le Sigh* lessons learned.
- The greenhouse is going to be heavy, make sure your prep space is close to the end space.
- Young plants can’t handle a drydown of longer than 24 hours. Check the greenhouse daily.
- The stems are delicate. Handling them means certain death. Keep the greenhouse in a place where you aren’t likely to trip over it and be sure to check out my next video where I’m resowing some swiss chard…*facepalm*
Now for some pictures!
Check out the Sunflower sprouts! Those first two little leaves are called cotyledon leaves. They aren’t the plant’s real leaves they are just huge vehicles to absorb a lot of sunlight and make food quickly during that critical growing time. They will die off as the plant matures but it is very important that you not pinch them off them. If those leaves are injured, the plant will die.
Being that you are super-heating moist peat moss in an enclosed environment, you may notice some mold looking stuff on the peat plugs. It may be mold, it may be roots—I honestly can’t tell the difference. But I do know that once you take the plastic cover off, if it is mold, it will dry out and die.
Hi little baby leaves!
So how are things going for your garden?
I enjoy basil. I love the fact that it comes in so many beautiful delicious varieties— cuban, thai, cinnamon, purple ruffles, I could go on for a solid hour about basil and its awesomeness. But the sad truth is that out of the five types of basil plants I have, I maybe used a single leaf of Sweet Basil all summer. Why? Well, aside from pesto, I have no idea what else to do with this stuff! I figure as the time comes for basil to peter out, some of y’all may be searching for interesting things to do with the herb. Here are a few that I found.
1) Chew a leaf!
Basil is a great source of Vitamins A & K. Remember Vitamin K can only be absorbed through ingestion so eat up! See how many different ways you can incorporate basil into your meals. Maybe try adding a couple of leaves to a salad, or adding a few Purple Ruffle leaves to your raspberry lemonade. Basil also relieves gas and nausea. I like to mix in a couple of chopped cinnamon basil leaves into some slices of nectarines, plums, and peaches.
2) Try out a new recipe
The seeds of Thai basil (called subja in India) swell in water and the mixture is used in Asian and Indian desserts and drinks. You could host your own bubble tea party!
3) Put away the Glade and plug in on basil!
Allowing your herbs to bolt (flower and go to seed) effects its flavor. If you aren’t too concerned about the culinary potency of your basil let the plant flower. Cut the flower stalks, tie them together with a ribbon, and hang then on a door jamb. Basil releases it’s beautiful scent when it’s touched so hang up a few stalks in any high traffic area and enjoy!
4) Make an herb tussie musie!
5) Store it
There are several ways to harvest and store basil. My favorite is to puree it and put it in ice cube trays with a little water. Once they freeze, I can put the cubes in a baggie and use them at my leisure.
6) Infuse some oil or vinegar
For infused oil, with a pestle and mortar, pound about 5-10 leaves into a paste. Add a few drops of olive oil and mix well. Then pour the mixture into a sterile jar, cover, and store for two weeks. Lightly stir or shake up the mixture every three days. Pour the now infused oil into a neat looking jar along with a stalk of the basil you used as decoration. The process is similar for vinegar. Bring a pint of white wine vinegar to boil in a glass or enameled pan (if you use a metal pot you’ll have to throw it out…#LessonsLearnedTheHardWay). Put your basil paste in a heatproof jug and pour the vinegar into the jug. Stir it well and let it cool. Then pour the mixture into a sterile jar, cover, and store for three weeks. Shake it up one in a awhile. Finally find another set of neat looking jars to pour the vinegar in along with a stalk of the basil you used as decoration.
7) Get rid of the RAID
Basil repels flies. Start a container plant on the windowsill.
8) Share the wealth!
Save the seeds and start some basil plants for your peeps! Give away stalks to the neighbors! Make a tussie mussie for your significant other! Anything to get it out of the house, lol!
Post your favorite use for basil on the Facebook Page. www.facebook.com/urballife
Also stay tuned for updates on the greenhouse and the front bed!
Here I am starting seeds that will make a great salad in a few months! Let me know what you think and what you are growing!
My Master Gardener mentor (thanks, Mr. Rob!) taught me that the best way to care for a plant is to observe it in it’s natural habitat and try to imitate what nature does to it.
For example, Columbine is an annual that typically grows at the base of trees in Northern forests. The flowers life cycle is done as fall approaches and it produces seeds. These seeds drop at the base of the tree and are covered up by the falling leaf matter of the tree. The seeds have a great mulch to protect them from the snow and the bare tree limbs allow plenty of sunlight to reach the seed. Before you know it, things warm up and the trees sprout their leaves. The tree’s canopy protect the shade-loving flower from the sun and the flower’s drought tolerance allows it to thrive when the tree leaves block rainfall. So what should you do to enjoy a beautiful show of Columbine next spring? Sow your seeds in an area that gets afternoon shade in the Spring (you need to know the way the earth moves as the seasons change), cover them with a good mulch, and water weekly. Fertilize mid-winter with a granular fertilizer or some worm castings and in a couple of months, enjoy the show!
A lot of the flowers we love in the Spring are sown in the Fall. What are your favorite Spring flowers and what can you do to get their growing process started?
This is my most favorite time of the year! When working the soil is pleasant and things are recovering from the brutal summer. Living in South Texas, I get to experience two Springs! Which means more opportunities with the herb beds. Some good herbs for this area during the cool season include parsley, dill, cilantro, rosemary, chamomile, thyme, salad burnet, chives, and sage. For a peek at what I’ve got going this winter subscribe to my YouTube Channel where I will be posting a video on seed propagation.
What do you plan on incorporating into you Winter herb bed? Have a question about what to do in your neck of the woods? Email me at tiara@tiaraDaGardener.com
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