Evergreens, especially berry-producing varieties, can provide colour and interest to your garden in the winter snows. (Pixabay photo)

Evergreens, especially berry-producing varieties, can provide colour and interest to your garden in the winter snows. (Pixabay photo)

A Gardener’s Diary: Coldframes give leg up on spring planting

Columnist Jocelyne Sewell plans winter planting ahead of December

We are in the last week of November already. Thanks to the mild weather we had, I had a chance to put the garden to bed. The compost I had in the bins has been spread over the beds. It will continue to break down over winter and early spring and the beds will be ready to plant.

The round composters I have which come apart in the middle, are used in winter to protect my fig plants. I put half of the composter which has no bottom, around the plant and fill it with shredded leaves. This method has protected my plants last winter even with the many -20 C days we had. I also pile bags of leaves around them. In the spring, I take off the composters, put them back together and they are ready for the new compost. They fill very fast with the fresh grass clippings and shredded leaves I saved.

I still have arugula growing in one of the cold frames. I keep the lid on and open it on sunny days. I will sow some lettuce seeds and they should germinate when the weather warms up. The coldframes give me an early start in the spring. By early fall, I am ready to take a break from the garden but after a couple of months of winter, I cannot wait to start growing plants again.

My Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) Thanksgiving cactus (United States) | Christmas cactus (Canada) is in full bloom white the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) | Christmas cactus (United States) is budding. More information on the following site: empressofdirt.net/identify-christmas-cactus/

My very large bird of paradise has one faded bloom which looks like the roadrunner on a bad day. However, I have five buds at a different stage and they should all be open by Christmas and look beautiful.

A lot of people have found refuge in their gardens this year with COVID-19. Seed companies have seen their sales going up from other years. The benefits of gardening have been confirmed by many studies.

Healing through gardening – a practice that had been forgotten.

Bristol University researchers have found that certain bacteria in the soil have a high rate of serotonin (often presented as the hormone of “happiness.” Gardening, therefore, would actually fight against stress and depression… for free.

Gardening is the best sport at any age in preventing osteoporosis and high blood pressure. This is the best practice after lifting weights to preserve the quality of the bones, according to a study by a team of researchers from the University of Arkansas in the United States in 2000.

I was just reading about sweet potatoes from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. They come in different colours of orange, white, yellow or purple. Sweet potatoes are very nutritious containing protein, calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin A and beta-carotene. Earlier the sweet potatoes were only white or yellow. Then in the 1930s, they cultivated the orange-fleshed which was larger, sweeter, moister and fleshier than the regular small sweet potatoes. It became a superior sweet potato. It was called a “yam” because it looked similar to the African vegetable and could be differentiated from the other sweet potatoes. The true yam is not related to the sweet potato.

For more information: 250-558-4556 jocelynesewell@gmail.com

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan.

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