My wife Nancy and I employ many strategies to aid us in enduring the non-working in the yard period known as winter. Like a lot of you that have a passion for being out in our gardens, seeing the positive effects on the environment and on ourselves, winter is a challenging time!
We start by planting yet more bulbs in the early fall then we are forced to turn our efforts indoors. We return to appreciating our long-term indoor plants, succulents, cacti, ferns etc. Even the not-usually too exciting lithops are in renewed focus. We’re constantly reminded how cool it is to see colorful blooming African violets and other gesneriads, Christmas cactus and the constant cut flowers we keep refreshing throughout the winter season. Of course, another key element of our winter survival strategy is always our every weekend trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden especially to visit the reinvigorating environment of the Climatron, we never get tired of that. These and reading the cool plant catalogs that show up this time of year along with the many gardening magazine subscriptions help us endure the dark days and serve as sources of ideas.
One of these ideas was to explore indoor cultivation of micro-greens not only for the nutritional value but also for the joy of actually putting my hands in dirt and growing something this time of year. I put together a relatively inexpensive seed germination and growth system consisting of a Jiffy Professional Greenhouse Peat Pellet system and a Ferry Morse high output 24”T5 daylight spectrum bulb system with stand. There is nothing particularly novel about this but I chose it as it is a compact system that I could set up in my home office, just to the left of my computer desk. By doing this, it is always at arms reach for easy viewing.
Adding water to the peat pellets induces swelling of the planting medium and enables immediate planting of microgreen seeds. In general, any vegetable can be planted and harvested when small as microgreens however I purchased a packet of Burpee Microgreens Rainbow Mix that contains 20% red beet, 20% cabbage pak choi, 20% kohlrabi purple, 20% broccoli and 20% Radish. I placed 3-4 seeds per peat plug and within 2-3 days all had sprouted and within 2-3 weeks, I was cutting micro-greens with a scissors and adding to salads. Watering with a couple quarts of water every other day or so keeps the growing greens hydrated especially in the dry indoor environment of winter.
Maybe it’s just me but working at my desk and turning to my left and seeing 3-4” tall plant growth is good for my soul this time of year, I recommend this to anyone feeling the agony of winter.
Description: Have you heard about the steep decline in the Western monarch population? Are you wondering how you can help? This webinar will explore the citizen science effort that tracks the California overwintering monarch population and will discuss the results from this year’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, a record low and a 99.4% decline.
· Katie Hietala-Henschell, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society
· Nick Stong, Programs Manager, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
· Emma Pelton, Western Monarch Lead, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society
The webinar will be offered through WebEx. The link and participation details will be provided the day prior to the webinar.
Please feel free to share this announcement and registration information!We look forward to your participation! MJV/NCTC Webinar Team
Two problems I have in the butterfly garden are aphids on milkweed and mildew on many plants. One idea that I saw recently was using Dormant Oil Spray.during late winter and early spring. While the video was mainly for fruit trees, the process would also be similar in my garden.
In particular, the area where I grow milkweed, might benefit from spraying the soil where aphid eggs would over-winter. I remove any milkweed plants around March 1st so my plan is to spray the soil around Feb. 15th then once again after I clean out the garden.
Note – I remove any chrysalises I find in the fall and keep them in the garage.
One of the things a gardener has to do every year is to fertilize the garden. If you clean out the garden every year, all those plant clippings are taking nutrients out of the soil that need to be replaced.
You have a number of choices every year from standard 10-10-10 fertilizer to organic fertilizers, but another choice is to just use compost.
A video series I have been watching recently is by Charles Dowding and his practice is to put two inches of compost on top of the soil every year and that’s it. He doesn’t dig it in, but lets it sit on top of the soil. He does this every year and is able to get two crops of vegetables every year.
While it is possible to make your own compost, it’s a lot of work. What I prefer to do is just buy it from StLCompost.com for $25/cu yard.
They even have a calculator so that you can figure out exactly how much you will need.
I did the calculation for a 4′ x 8′ garden bed and you would need .2 cu. ft. of compost. If you do the math, that works out to just $5.00
The only catch is that you will need to bring a pickup to get the compost. They will dump it into your truck. If you don’t need a full cubic yard, you can share it with your friends and neighbors.
Here is a video by Charles Dowding and his method.