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spr ing
on the
Winter Bounty
Winter crops are just the best.
So much easier than the rest.
Lot less work, there ain’t no doubt.
That’s because the rain helps out.
Poppies, pansies, stock and snaps
In the garden fill the gaps.
Pansies have those kitty faces
In pots and beds and other places.
Violas are a little smaller
But snap-dragons are much taller.
English primrose for bright shade.
Deadhead flowers as they fade.
There’s winter stuff that you can eat
But snails assure it’s no small feat.
Tasty when the sprouts are new
Pests will munch ‘em ‘fore you do.
Taste so good that you’ll want more.
So much fresher than the store.
Whether starts or seeds you’re sowin’
Better when you grow your ow’n.
hile most of the country has put their gardens
to bed for the winter, we Montecitans can enjoy a
complete second season of both vegetable and flower
gardening. e selection and possibilities for winter
growing are probably as numerous as those for our warm season with
even a few advantages.
With the cooler weather, soil does not dry out as fast as in the
summer so you don’t have to water as often. Also, if we get our
winter rains, they relieve us of some of our watering duties. Keep in
mind though, that when veggies and flowers are newly planted, their
little root balls dry out fast – sometimes in just a day so they do need
to be babied along a bit. A light rain here and there often does not
do the trick.
Weeds are not as pesky in the winter, and if you do get some, a
thick blanket of mulch makes them easy to yank out.
Most of the rules of (green) thumb for summer growing apply to
the winter season.
• Some vegetables and flowers are easier than others to grow from
seed. Consult a nursery or online source for specifics, but generally
most winter crops can be planted from seed or transplants.
Naturally, you would germinate seeds weeks earlier than the time
that starts would be planted. With some crops such as snow, sweet
or snap peas, you can plant both for a staggered yield.
• When buying starts, avoid overgrown, root-bound ones that
already have fruit or flowers on them. If necessary, before buying,
gently knock one or two out of their pony packs and check out the
conditions of the roots. You can see why the nurseries love me.
• Protect your garden from predators. Sometimes younger plants are
more desirable to birds and other wildlife. Cover newly germinated
peas, lettuce and other tender vittles with screening or netting
to protect from snails, slugs, rats, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks,
wildebeests and others.
brand snail bait is touted as being
safe enough to use around pets. Use at your own risk. Older or
more mature crops are vulnerable too so take precautions.
• Before planting vegetables or annual flowers, always amend soil with
your own homemade, backyard compost or a quality organic brand
from the nursery. Add some organic starter fertilizer to the mix.
by Randy Arnowitz