Once again I have dawdled in getting the monthly review out in a timely fashion. January seems long ago. I can barely remember New Year’s Eve and the entire month seems like one long, gray blur. Normally here in north central Indiana, this would be our coldest, and often snow-covered month. This is usually punctuated by the famous “January thaw,” during which the snow melts and sometimes even a precocious dandelion might bloom.
January was more foggy than usual, with several mornings when I could barely make out the potager’s fence. It seemed like an exceptionally windy month, more like March than January. Temperature-wise it was about normal, with lots of single digit or below 0 degrees F nights. There were 13 wonderful sunny days, 13 cloudy, overcast days, 1 rainy day (January 1st!) and 5 days when the big winter storm came through and dropped 11″ of snow as it passed through. This January was also fogged by the “Omicron surge” across the state, and especially in our little county of only about 10,000 hardy souls. Things pretty well came to a standstill, except for our valiant medial and emergency workers, a few stores that were able to remain open despite employee shortages, and our wonderful postal and delivery workers. Because of that, we cancelled our trip to Florida which made me sad.
I always have trouble with January, because I hate taking down the beautiful tree with all its festive lights and memory-filled decorations but I finally did at month’s end. All the nutcrackers have returned to their storage spots and the nail by the front door where the Christmas wreath hung remains empty. I have left all the wooden snowmen outdoors to add a bit of cheer, because technically they are “winter” rather than “holiday” decor. A few drawers and boxes were sorted, resulting in a trunk-load of items going off to Goodwill. I told myself I’d do lots more, but I failed…
Instead, I fussed over my list of crops, scoured newly arriving catalogs, made lots of lists with different categories (expected bloom time, flower shape, color, etc.) which resulted in more seed ordering! I know, there were already more seeds than there will be room for in the gardens (even with succession planting!) alphabetically sorted by starting date in the seed box, or chilling in the freezer or refrigerator, but here’s my justification: as I studied my list of crops and sorted them out by color and bloom times, there were some apparent gaps in terms of making cohesive bouquets with all the vital elements (focal flowers, filler, verticals and “airy.”) Plus, there were some notifications that seeds on back order would not be arriving at all, or in a timely manner.
Here’s what was ordered in January: replacement early snapdragons, blue Chinese forget-me-nots, an apricot scabiosa, a pale blue delphinium, “Midnight” nigella, “Cantaloupe” calendula to provide some pinkish, apricot, and softer yellow tones. Then I found an inexpensive source (comparatively speaking) for “Purple Majesty” millet (Fruition Seeds) and also ordered “Giant Yellow” hyssop, craspedia, burgundy toned centurea, and seeds for a large French “frog leg” shallot. In addition to seeds, a few more gladiolas and dahlias were ordered to round out planned color schemes and combinations. Planning and ordering seeds always cheers me!
And thankfully, there was lots of seeding and transplanting to do in the basement which also lifts my spirits. There were 41 varieties seeded in January, all flowers or herbs except for celery, the French shallots, and rhubarb. I’ve never grown rhubarb from seed before, but it sure was easy. I just love watching tiny seeds sprout and then grow big enough to move into their own individual pots. The perennial seeds sown in December were all ready to go: violas, rudbeckias, gaillardia, columbines, lisianthus,yarrows, the yellow feverfew, stock, mountain mint, blue flax, hollyhocks, lemon savory, gold moss feverfew, verbena tenuisecta, lemon monarda, snapdragons, and rhubarb. I’ve never grown rhubarb from seed before, but it sure was easy. In total, 724 babies were moved into pots. Half the dianthus that were transplanted in December had grown tall enough that they were given a pinch to encourage branching, leaving the other half to hopefully provide earlier blooms.
And, of course more amaryllis bulbs were brought out of their dark resting place, repotted, watered and moved to the sunny bay window in our bedroom until they began to bloom. The dahlia tubers in storage in crates in the garage were checked, found to be shriveling a tad, so they were misted with water and recovered. The ranunculus corms were soaked and planted in a starter flat.
I read more than normal this month: “The Giver of Stars,” “Villa Mirabella,” “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek,” “The Madness of Crowds,” “Liberty Tavern,” “Remember the Morning,” “The Officers’ Wives.” And, of course I watched lots of college basketball, baked too much, and ate too much! But, we made it through the month and during these times, that seems to be more “iffy” than in past years, so I’m thankful.
Blessing on each one of you! Be safe, smile even if you don’t feel like it, and keep aware of the countdown to “official” Spring… only 37 days!