As the Northern Hemisphere leans towards the Sun, we begin to warm up and Mother Nature wakes up. For many of us it has been a long, cold winter. It may take a few more weeks for the soil to warm up, but the journey towards sunny, warm, colorful days has begun.
To say Dr. Carver invented peanut products is like saying Thomas Edison invented the vitascope, or Abraham Lincoln developed a patent to lift boats over river shoals, or Peter Parker is a biophysics student at Empire State University. All true but not the main story.
Don’t bury the lead! Dr. Carver changed American agronomy through ideas and inventions that laid the groundwork for the Green Revolution. His studies of soil science led to His studies of soil science led to the practice of crop rotation.
Gardening is a 4 season sport, even in Chicago. While it’s negatively cold outdoors, we can grow flowers and veggies that beautify our homes, purify our air, and brighten our spirits.
Plants make us feel more relaxed and comfortable. Greenery attracts and calms us. Besides the psychological perks, there are also physiological benefits. All plants filter pollution from the air and pump out fresh oxygen. Some are superstars at removing toxins found in paints, carpets, printers, and cleaners from inside air. In wintertime when we rarely open our windows, these plants are the perfect companions for a healthy mind and body.
You put good money into plants, soil, containers, and or landscape services during the season. Did your landscape perform well? Were the plants healthy and vigorous? Were there problems, like disease, dieback, weeds, weak growth, messiness, etc? Now's the time to evaluate your return on investment.
In most parts of the country the gardening season is winding down and preparations are under way to put the garden to bed. That's a somewhat misleading phrase because, for instance, in my Chicago garden many plants (the witch hazels, creeping sedums, aster rosettes, and a few precocious snowdrops) are active in winter. Also, it is not yet time to pull the blanket of mulch over the garden. That comes next month when the ground begins to freeze. Much like with a toddler resisting bedtime, putting the garden to bed does not mean it's going to go to sleep. But the steps we take now will prepare it for the cold to come.
Why won't my orange tree produce fruit? Why won't my hydrangea flower? Why do my tomatoes develop blossom end rot? Why is my corn weak and spindly? Why are the leaves on my witch hazel yellowing in midsummer? Why do the leaves on my apple tree look scorched? Is it safe to grow veggies in my city lot? The answers to these and many other gardening dilemmas are rooted in the soil.
After all the cleaning, clearing, and soil work, I ecstatically welcome Thanksgiving. Once the garden is put to bed, we can reflect on the year, plan for 2018, and eat turkey, dressing, rolls, etc until we’re happily comatose.
The fall season has officially arrived! In many regions of the country, its time to start bringing houseplants inside, harvesting cold sensitive crops, and checking forecasts for the dreaded first frost.