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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