Outdoor Finale

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

December is here, outdoor work is not. After winding up a few odds and ends last month, Beth and I are down for the winter, awaiting spring.  We are done raking and mowing leaves, done spreading leaf mulch, and done preparing plants for winter. Or so I thought.

Saturday’s rain was an extraordinary blessing. I couldn’t believe how dry the soil was after our nice rains early in November. No snow, and 1.4 inches of rain–perfect. With the cold weather of this week, freeze up will begin, helping to hold the moisture into the soil.

And also on Saturday, a shipment of “something” arrived from the Arbor Day Foundation. It was in appreciation for a donation I had made earlier. We know that somewhere in that clump of roots is a purple lilac. Yesterday I planted the whole clump (it was very small) in the waste area south-east of the garden. I put a white tile around it to protect the plants from the rabbits; we’ll see what comes up next spring, and plan accordingly.

The first 2012 seeds have been ordered, and were shipped late last week. My JOHNNY’S SELECTED SEEDS catalog arrived on Saturday as well, and my mouth is watering for Hawkeye Bob to read it tonight so I can Braille my order. Yes, spring can’t come too soon.

The two pots of forced bulbs are growing, but no sign of flowers or buds yet. I suspect there might be Christmas flowers if we are lucky.

I turned the heat on in the sun room Saturday morning. I’ll probably keep it at 50 degrees or so for the next few months, to push the forced bulbs along, and to make the tropicals a bit more comfortable. We are expecting temperatures of around 10 degrees this week, which would mean close to freezing in the sun room. The scented geraniums on the shelves in the south-east corner are tall, lanky and ugly. I’ll give them a severe trim outdoors in May, and give them plenty of sun as well; hopefully this will lead to their resurgence. Now that the heat is on, the Christmas cactus will move along as well. It now has large buds, and should be blooming in less than two weeks. That means we’ll have Christmas cactus on Christmas–definitely appropriate.  The first tangerine fell on the floor as well. It doesn’t appear to be very ripe, but I’ll set it near the kitchen window for a while until it softens up and I can enjoy my home-grown citrus fruit again.

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