Sunday, February 5, 2012
Back from dormancy!
I know there hasn’t been many updates of the blog, you can blame me being tied up in horticultural endeavors. But Lost in the Farmers Market proudly returns with this post but before we get to today’s horticultural post there is some news.
1. Southward Skies second edition is now available on Amazon.com for digital download as an ebook for the kindle. The digital version of the book contains the original intended covers and is formatted exactly as the print copy is.
2. The second edition is also available as a PDF file which can be ordered through email, I’ll be taking orders for the PDF version at the two upcoming events mentioned below.
3. The actual print version of second edition will be available in mind-late February, in a limited print run. The updates to the book include 50 new photos, and entirely re-done herbs, vegetable, ornamental, weeds and pests sections.
4. On Sunday February the 12th 2012 I will be the guest speaker at the neighborhood grange meeting located at the Cape Fear Museum in Fayetteville North Carolina At 3:00pm. The topic being discussed is Winter Soil Preparation for improved harvest and, How to maintain a 365 day garden. While I cannot say if print copies of second edition will be available at the event I can say the PDF version will be ready and available.
5. I have confirmation that I will be participating as a speaker in the Urban Farm Day event, it is going to occur at the downtown community garden on Van story and Mann Street on Saturday May the 12th 2012 from 10:00 am through 3:00pm. By then there will definitely be hard copy of the book available as will PDF versions. As with last year there will be a plant sale, giveaways, and a rare copy of Desert Harvest will be available.
6. About the book, the three versions of the book have set pricing, The Kindle electronic book version, is 9.99, the PDF version is 15.00, and the print version, which will be signed, is 25.00. The kindle version and PDF versions are available now; the hard copy is due in mid to late February.
But enough about that shameless promotion, time to talk about the topic at hand, winter gardening. Did you know that it is possible to produce a crop every month of the year? The key is timing of course knowing when to do what is as important as knowing how to do it.
January & February
January & February are often bleak months, it’s cold, it might be wet, and most have resigned themselves to winter leaving the garden to fend for itself. Up north the ground may be too cold to work, and in the Deep South while the ground isn’t frozen the weather may be uncooperative. But there are several critical things you can do in the first months of the year that can save you a lot of effort later on when it will be harder to accomplish the tasks or too late to start work.
Knowing the size and depth of your beds will help you determine what you can grow, but also will help you evaluate what work needs to be done before the spring crops are planted. Also measuring out areas for new beds is best done during the first two months of the year because you have time to tweak the placement and appearance of the beds. Drawing actual plans of your beds at this time is part of measuring because it helps demonstrate the nature of your garden and aids in keeping your plans within reasonable limits.
Look at your garden, determine what worked last year and why, then look at what did not do well and also consider why. Now is the best time to consider where you may want to transplant things or what basic changes you need to make to improve conditions. Also now is the time to send off soil samples to your local agricultural extension agency to have the soil tested. The tests will aid in determining what you must do later on for the soil.
In late December through March is when your plant supply and seed catalogs tend to arrive. If you are not getting these already then January generally is the best time to sign up for them. It may save you some effort to go through each once bending the page edges that bear things your immediately interested in, then going back through with a highlighter making the things that you know you can reasonably grow. The idea behind this is to burn out the shoppers urge so you don’t overdo it before you start.
If you stick to the things you know you have the space for and can absolutely grow then pick a handful of experimental plants your chances for overall success will be better.
Once you understand the space you have, what plants you want to grow, and the soil test results are back you can then before planting go about making structural improvements. I always advice doing the heavy lifting during the winter and fall for two reasons; reduced insect annoyances and the weather is cooler and thus you have to strain less to get the same result. Good tasks for the late winter and autumn include building raised beds, cutting new beds, adding soil improvements and applying mulch. Lastly in the improvement phase you can readily adjust your plant selection with information gleaned from earlier steps weather patterns and any other changes that are prompted.
It is fair to say that the above is more or less the groundwork for what will come next, but that portion of this series will appear next week, when I in conjunction with the public appearance noted at the beginning of this article will discuss soil preparation in detail.
February Update schedule
2/12 – Winter Soil Preparation
2/19 – The life and Times of a black thumb.
2/26 – Things to Consider.