From the Garden: What Landis Gardeners Do to Beat the Winter Blues

By Erin Breglia

Winter’s frigid air may have gar­den­ers wish­ing for warm sun and soil, but they are plen­ty busy dur­ing their off sea­son. Before you are tempt­ed to book a flight to the Caribbean, dis­cov­er what a few mem­bers of the Lan­dis Gar­den Club do to enjoy gar­den­ing all year round!

Erin Breglia: I’m the moth­er of two young boys who love the out­doors, and win­ter is the time we make plans for the next sum­mer. This includes camp­ing, bik­ing, and hik­ing plans, as well as improve­ments to our land­scape and gar­dens. Both chil­dren have had their own gar­dens and enjoy plant­i­ng — and play­ing in — them. My old­est son plant­ed a Taco Gar­den” late in the sea­son, so we moved it indoors, where it is still grow­ing on the kitchen win­dowsill. There are also herb pots of oregano, pars­ley, and rose­mary, used for both cook­ing and as aro­mat­ics (by plac­ing sprigs in our wood­stove ket­tle). On a cold, snowy day, we love to look through veg­etable seed cat­a­logs for new plants to try. In 2017, we plan to attempt heir­loom car­rots, seed onions, and sweet potatoes.

Wendy Kass: Win­ter is when excite­ment starts to build for the spring. I go through cat­a­logs search­ing for seeds. This year I will be buy­ing only organ­ic seeds in order to cut down on our intake of chem­i­cals. I work out what needs to sprout ahead of time and prep for that. I think this year I’ll try to sprout the Scil­la seeds I’ve been col­lect­ing. Hope­ful­ly I’ll have enough to take to the Spring Plant Sale. If there is a bit of nice weath­er and no snow, I do as much yard clean-up as I can. There are always the late fall mums, coral bells and sil­ver mound to cut back, as well as dead branch­es and twigs to prune. Every time I walk through the yard I pic­ture it in bloom again!

Fred Breglia: I love to spend time out­doors in the win­ter as much as I do the rest of the year. Ski­ing, snow­shoe­ing, and moun­taineer­ing keep me active and in touch with nature and the for­est. I often spend time check­ing on plants at the Arbore­tum, mak­ing sure they are pro­tect­ed from deer and oth­er wildlife. Win­ter also gives me a chance to thor­ough­ly dis­man­tle, sharp­en, and clean all of my prun­ing tools. I inven­to­ry the tools and note their con­di­tion, then list what I will need to pur­chase, such as saw blades. I have a lot of prun­ing gear, includ­ing the ropes I use to prac­tice mak­ing climb­ing knots to refresh my mem­o­ry. I even set up a line indoors to climb and descend!

Jeanne Post-Sour­mail: I’ve got lots of jam and jel­ly-mak­ing to do from frozen berries picked in the sum­mer. As for gar­den­ing, I’m a novice and have only been gar­den­ing for the last three years. I keep my old seed pack­ets, so dur­ing the down time of win­ter” I’ll decide which plants I want to repeat, then look for new options online for plants that are organ­ic and bred for our cli­mate. I want to learn much more about herbs. I grow all of my own plants direct­ly from seeds, so the next step is set­ting up my shelv­ing units and grow lights. Then in ear­ly to mid-Feb­ru­ary comes the task of start­ing seeds, water­ing, re-pot­ting — and keep­ing the cats from eat­ing the lit­tle green shoots. And, of course, when the sun shines and it’s pos­si­ble to be out­side, that’s where you’ll find me, fin­ish­ing up what I didn’t get done in the fall.

Chan­dra Burkhart: The adage, God made rainy days so gar­den­ers could get oth­er things done,” holds true for the snowy and icy months too. As my green things turn brown along with the autumn leaves, I turn my focus indoors. As a child, I remem­ber por­ing over the toy cat­a­logs at Christ­mas time. Now I do the same with the seed cat­a­logs — first a quick glance through, then a slow­er, more method­i­cal turn through the pages, and final­ly fold­ing over the page cor­ners and cir­cling the new toys’ I’d like to have. I review my gar­den jour­nal to deter­mine what worked and what did not, make plans for what I need to add or move, and start seeds indoors to help keep the win­ter dol­drums at bay.

Editor’s note: Win­ter is also opti­mum time for read­ing! Here’s a short list of rec­om­men­da­tions for gar­den­ers from this retired Eng­lish teacher: Braid­ing Sweet­grass: Indige­nous Wis­dom, Sci­en­tif­ic Knowl­edge, and the Teach­ing of Plants” by Robin Wall Kim­mer­er; The Moth Snow­storm: Nature and Joy” by Michael McCarthy; H is for Hawk” by Helen Mac­don­ald – and two clas­sics, A Gardener’s Year” by Karel Capek and Onward and Upward in the Gar­den” by Kather­ine S. White.

– Nolan Marciniec

Winter 2017

Volume 35 , Number 1

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