Two inches of snow, not much but enough to dampen any gardening enthusiasm. It should be looked on as a chance to do some garden planning.
I grew up enjoying outings at a favorite Chinese restaurant. Chinese cuisine is heavily laced with vegetables. At least it was at that time.
American cuisine is heavily dependent on meat. I prefer the vegetable approach. Good vegetables are hard to find.
No, you say, go to the store. In my area the vegetable selection is limited and expensive. Commercial fruits and vegetables are often picked green so they will ship well. The difference between a store tomato and one ripened in the garden is a case in point.
Garden planning has three parts. The indoor part is deciding which vegetables will be in the garden this year. Then the seeds are located in the seed catalogs, ordered and stockpiled until planting time.
The outdoor part begins with choosing a garden site and continues from then onward. I have the garden laid out, fenced but not quite ready for spring. Usually all my beds are manured and mulched long before now but late frost delayed starting. There are three beds to go but they are planted later.
For several years I have been adding a few Chinese vegetables to the garden. I would like to add more but am not familiar with what they are or how to grow them.
Grow Your Own Chinese Vegetables by Geri Harrington, Garden way Press, 1978, is easy to read, has lots of interesting tips, goes through many Chinese vegetables with what they are, how to grow them and how to use them.
The third part of garden planning is reading. Many gardening books have much the same information in them. That is when scanning comes in handy. Scanning is a fancy way of saying reading a sentence each paragraph to see if the paragraph is worth the time.
Surprisingly these books with so much repetition of information often toss in a nugget or two that make the reading well worththe time. Many times that nugget may be applied to gardens very different than mine but still solve a problem I have.
This year I am perusing an older book, 1978 from Garden Way Publishing, called Grow Your Own Chinese Vegetables by Geri Harrington. Much of the books is a listing of individual vegetables: what they are; how to grow them; what they look like; and how to use them. These pages I will read on a selected basis as there are a number of Chinese vegetables such as hot peppers I will not ever grow.
One nugget came in the first few pages. Consider soil. My father used to go out with a shovel and turn his garden.
Grow Your Own Chinese Vegetables has an interesting observation. Vegetables grow in topsoil which sits on top of the subsoil. Often this topsoil is thin or even missing. Subsoil may be turning into soil but naturally takes hundreds of years to do so.
Turning your soil with a shovel could bury your topsoil into the subsoil defeating your garden before you plant your seeds. Check for how deep your topsoil is before turning your garden over.
Turning subsoil into topsoil can be speeded up. Remove the layer of topsoil. Dig manure and thin leaves such as maple or sweet gum into the subsoil. Replace the topsoil. Doing this for a few years will make a deep layer of topsoil.
Don’t neglect adding compost to the topsoil to keep it in good shape.
I just started this book and within a few pages found a nugget of information I hadn’t read elsewhere. I found some others in the pages on snow peas and yard long beans, both of which I grow.
Winter is a great time for garden planning. In a way winter is too short. I need to start my cabbage seeds by the end of the month. So much for loafing.