|February 22, 2012|
|Wednesday, 22 February 2012 14:55|
by Bob Smith
I have lived in climate zones similar to northern Indiana all my life, and I can’t remember a more pleasant winter weather year than we have experienced here in the winter of 2011-2012! Sure, it has snowed a little, and made slippery roads for one or a very few days, but the snow plows and salt trucks came out before the school buses pick up students, and the temperature climbs above freezing enough to melt nearly all ice from the roads we travel. Of course, it is awhile until spring and summer roll in, so we will continue to pay attention to the temperature and weather information.
We are very careful – actually Judy is very careful, because she has been driving my car to carry me to everywhere I need to go, and she takes care of my every need since I had a lumbar spine fusion last August, with three inch titanium screws anchoring my spine to a stainless steel plate keeping everything in order.
Full recovery may take one year - but I am past the sixth month, but still using a wheeled walker to perambulate and I have had excellent care and treatment, I recommend that if spinal fusion is recommended, that you check any possible alternatives – and, “THANK YOU, JUDY, for all you have done for me!”
I hope you grow some plants, and hopefully a garden, with flowers, and food items like beans, tomatoes, squash, vegetables, sweet corn, peppers, and fruit, etc. If you don’t know how, but would like to, you could ask the gardeners you know, or owners of gardens you admire, for assistance – like the name of their seed providers. They wouldn’t mind helping you with seed catalog information and advice.
When I was young, my father started seeds he saved from last year’s garden, or a packet of seeds for about ten cents, in shallow boxes of moist soil, kept behind the wood burning stove that burned all night. Seeds need warmth and moisture to start growing, and proper light, 16 hours a day to become producing plants. Currently, seed packets are often offered for $2.50 per packet, and we usually buy more than one year’s supply of each kind of seeds we plant, because they can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer for years before planting.
Seed catalogs will often mention what ‘Planting Zones’ the pictured seed will best be grown in, and seed packets will usually say if and when those seeds should be started indoors, to avoid late freezes when planted in your garden. The U.S. Department of Agriculture produces this map, and it has just been updated-for the first time since 1990, and some areas in some states like us and Ohio, are in slightly warmer zones, because the “coldest days of the year there” aren’t as cold as they used to be, and in this area, which used to be Zone 5 – some of it is Zone 5B, and some of it Zone 6A! I think it is the result of global warming! But some people just don't believe the globe is warming!
My good friend, Ricky Kemery, Horticultural Educator for the Northeastern Indiana Extension Service, says gardeners should be wary of starting seeds of annuals OUTDOORS too early in the spring. We start most garden seeds under proper fluorescent lights (one cool white bulb, one warm white bulb) downstairs in the basement, with a timer that turns them on for 16 hours, and off for eight hours each day.
We usually move the plants outside to a trailer to ‘harden off’ a week before planting, and pull the trailer out into the sunlight during warm daylight hours, and put it back in the barn when night approaches. We usually plant our garden on Memorial Day, and some neighbors plant a little sooner – and somehow get the first tomato sandwich before we do! – but when we planted before Memorial Day, sometimes we had some plants FROZEN.
If you are computer wise, you can click on the USDA’s Planting Zone Map, enter your zip code, and get the up-to-date estimate of “average frost free days.” I will still try to plant on Memorial Day! Good gardening . . .