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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Jan 08

A Healthy Start for Gardeners

Posted on January 8, 2016 at 10:38 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

Resolutions seem to accompany the start of a new year. For example, with great intentions we resolve to make changes in our lives for the betterment of our health. But as I think back over the years, I never made a resolution for the health of my garden. This year that changed, although it didn't start on January 1.

Neglected greenhouse
Neglected greenhouse
You see, I braved the depths of snow in Lassen County this week and peered into the greenhouse that has lain dormant now for several months. The grow lamps lined the tables. Heating pads lay in wait for seedling trays to be mounted atop. The skeletal remains of zucchini and parsley were found scattered on the floor. Without heat, the citrus could not withstand the sub-zero weather we experienced here over the holidays. The only greenery inside was the tough creeping thyme planted in the ground. Reviewing the outcome of the abandoned greenhouse, I resolved to get it back into shape—and what a perfect time to start!  

While Mother Nature is replenishing our reservoirs with needed water, we can be busy preparing, pruning, planning, and planting for spring gardens. What better way to spend a rainy day than to study the new seed catalogs that are finding their way into the mailbox and offering new varieties of veggies to try this 2016 season. Memories of color that were tried and true in the garden this past year can be written down in a garden journal so as not to forget to pick up more come spring. Cool season vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, broccoli, spinach, and chard can be planted into seed starting trays right now in order to get a jump start on harvesting in early spring. Pruning shears, loppers, and saws may require the blades to be oiled and sharpened before we begin removing dead, diseased, dying, or cross-branching limbs and twigs on our shrubs, trees, and roses. Fallen leaves that lie decaying may carry a fungus that can reintroduce the problem to the plant again in the spring. Rake up all diseased debris and throw the material into a hot compost pile to recycle back into the garden once it decomposes.

If you do not have a greenhouse, and wish to start some seeds, locate an area in the house where sunny windows shed direct light. Place seedling trays with clear plastic over the seedlings to maintain moisture and watch carefully as the seedlings emerge. If the soil appears dry, place a tray underneath and add water to the lower tray to wick up to the seeds. Do not allow the water to remain in the bottom of the tray. Once germination occurs, remove the clear wrap and daily brush your hands lightly over the seedlings to build their stem strength so they'll be ready to move outdoors.

Now is the time to work on a healthy garden. Are you with me?


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