Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Merry Christmas

The holiday season can stir up old memories and feelings of loss this time of year. The cold sinks in around us and it becomes hard to go out and enjoy nature. I hope those of you who read this can cherish your old childhood memories of the holidays and remember those who have gone with a fondness that sometimes only comes with the passing of time.

My family has shrunk to a few - just my brother and the three fur 'children'. But family can be extended to more than just blood relatives. Many people come to the realization that those they are not related to often love them more than their given family.

May all of you find the love in your heart with the spirit of the prophet Jesus and the mystical St. Nicholas, for giving to all those that you are close to. Random kindness to a stranger is always appreciated as well.

A Merry Christmas from Sage Advice Nursery.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Greens

Haven't posted in a while and you can see why...Nothing much happening at the nursery, we're snowed in. It got sooo cold for a spell, the big greenhouse at Vicki's went down to 10F. There was no way I could heat it with the little space heater and Vicki's goofy electrical system, so I shut it down. The only casualties will be the gerberas and the brugmansias I carefully tended from seed - just no room for either in the little greenhouse. So live and learn. Think I will try and invest in a vent-free propane heater for the bigger greenhouse - that should put out enough BTUs to heat the space.

Rain and freezing rain predicted for the next several days. Hoping the nursery stock doesn't thaw out - that's what takes its toll - repeated freezing and thawing. Not much I can do, but stand by and watch.

Meanwhile, the Oakland County Greenhouse beds are doing remarkably well. We've had a bit of trouble with aphids and my strategy is once a plant gets 'em - out it goes. I found from last year that it just doesn't pay to spray to get rid of them as their numbers explode so rapidly. Pulled all the kale and braising greens, plus the radishes as they were growing slowly and were heavily infested. Today the arugula crop hit the compost pile. I'll try for another batch of it come January. The greenhouse managers did spray neem oil this week in an attempt to get a handle on the buggers but they really can goof up a greenhouse.

Have been scouting my greenhouse to see if my plants are clean - so far, so good. Potted up windowsill herbs today - peppermint, rosemary and sage. Already have thyme, parsley and catnip in the greenhouse, but due to the cold, light levels and the fact that I haven't fertilized - the plants are sitting still. Maybe since Saturday is solstice we'll get some more daylight in the coming weeks and growth will resume again.

Hope you are surviving and even thriving this busy holiday season. May you have a peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Nasturtium 'Alaska' bloom

Bed #1, the pole beans were removed after this pic was taken

Pretty colors of baby greens in bed #2

Just starting to harvest this bed, new seedlings in the dark soil

Pretty spinach crop - trying to keep it aphid free

Bull's Blood Beet greens - deep red

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In the Dark

It was dark at 4:30 today and out of a gray sky fell a fine drizzle. Not weather conducive to working outside in the nursery, although I have to get out there and move and cut back plants.The dark days before winter solstice are upon us.

Have been working on two websites for two farmers markets. Am bartering website and publicity work for booth space. One market - The Old Winery Farmers Market - is going on now through April every Saturday. I'm selling produce, jams, baked goods, sprouting seeds and I hope to get some spices and teas bagged up for the weekend. The craziest thing I had last week were giant 3' long aloe leaves and I cooked up a couple of samples. I poached the aloe gel cubes in honey with a bit of lime and I must say they were quite good. The other market is the Garden Gate Market at Goldner Walsh nursery in Pontiac. This one is a brand new market starting in spring of 2014 where I'll also be selling produce. Since the market is at a nursery I can't sell the live plants.

The plants have taken a back seat of late. Ordered some herb liners to pot up as windowsill plants and I have a few things I am growing in the greenhouses. Kind of in a transition season. I hate to have heat on in the big greenhouse as there is so little in there, so I have to start filling it up. Will be starting another batch of edible greens in there ASAP.

The plants do very little growing this time of year. Reading up on winter growing, the authors have said that once daylight hours go below ten per day, the plants just kind of sit still. Many varieties of cold weather greens can tolerate the temperatures but don't have enough light to put on much growth. In the community greenhouse, plants are doing well as they were September and October sown but last year the greenhouse growth slowed to a crawl until February. The surprise crop for me are the green beans, long and ready to harvest right now.

The holiday season is here and I am gearing up to do baskets for friends and neighbors. Thank goodness for the dollar store and their myriad tins, baskets and bins. Packed right and with a few strategic bows, I should be able to make some nice gifts. Made a pineapple-ginger jam today, but that is destined for market.

I hope you are adjusting to these dark days as I am and that the holiday spirit is catching up to you. Not just that "gotta buy it now" attitude but one of peace and compassion for one's fellow travelers through life. May your days be merry and bright.