All the photos in this blog were taken by me. The information is taken from friends, books, magazines, conversations at nurseries, the internet and a few of my own amateur-gardener thoughts. Please feel free to share your own knowledge and experiences in the comment section that follows each posting.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Wonder

I started writing this blog with the intention of posting every two weeks. I've got one more week to write an entry that will qualify for once a month. I'll blame it on winter, the holidays and too much festivity. My Garden Girlz (or sometimes known as Dirty Girlz) inspired me to get writing!

While life is busy moving forward, the garden grows with ease and independence during these cooler months. I am never disappointed by its progress in my absence and I often teeter between which season I like better, warm or cool. Cool season vegetables have rich, deep colors between the dark purple leaves of Radicchio and Swiss Chard or the green/purple combination beginning in the Cabbage or the intense lime green Christmas tree peaking through from the Broccoli Romanesco or the snowy white Cauliflower. Natural art using colors I love.

For more information about Warm and Cool Season Vegetables and when to plant them, see the Santa Clara Master Gardener's Warm and Cool Season Vegetable Planting Guidelines to decide when to plant for best results.

Don't Forget to Feed the Birds.  They eat all year round. 
And if you want them to help you in the summer with insects, feed them so they'll stay!

Resource Tip:
We are fortunate in this area to have many resources to learn about our gardens. Now that I have officially started the Master Gardeners Program, I want to make sure you know about the HOTLINE. 
You can call the hotline Monday - Friday from 9:30 -12:30 at 408-282-3105.  If you have home gardening questions, ponder no more... just pick up the phone! 

January To Do's
If you haven't done your dormant season pruning, now is the time for your deciduous plants. Acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons are best pruned while they are blooming or immediately thereafter.  Don't forget to fertilize as well. I like to sprinkle the ground around my roses with alfalfa pellets that I get at a local feed store. It's an excellent source of Nitrogen often needed at this time of year.  It's also time to do your dormant season spraying in order to prevent problems with overwintering insects in the Spring.  All spraying must be completed before buds form. Check with your local nursery what the best type of spray is for your conditions.

Don't forget that your plants may need water during the dry weeks that we have in the winter. Make sure to check your soil. Use your water meter. You'll be surprised to see that often they are parched. Especially your pots!

January is also a good time to pay attention to our indoor plants. Dust off their leaves and flush their root systems. If you can, take them to a sink or bathtub and water several times. Let them drain well or put them in a tray with stones. Do not let them sit in their own water... unless you want their roots to rot.

Erma Bombeck says, "Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died". 
She makes you want to laugh and then say to yourself... 
that makes so much sense!

 Easy Peasy Bok Choi 
So fast, yet so good

I pick several leaves of this Win Win Choi (Bok Choi family), wash them off well and loosely chop them into bite site pieces. I put a small amount of sesame oil in a saute pan, add the bok choi, stirring occasionally until it wilts to my desire. I like the stem crunchy so I don't wait too long. Then, I add a couple teaspoons of soy sauce and voila! 
Delicious with a nice piece of salmon (with sesame oil and ginger) and a glass of white wine.
Simple is superb.

January makes me marvel at nature in a different way than June. Its amazing to me and sometimes shocking how plants make it through such miserable conditions. I've been to Tahoe a couple times this winter and I look at the blanket of white snow and envision that in a few months the whole landscape will be drastically changed. Perhaps one of Mother Nature's finest accomplishments is managing seasons. However, it would be hard to agree on what her finest accomplishment is 
because she has so many. 
Any thoughts? 

"There's one good thing about snow - it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbour's." 
Clyde Moore

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