There’s more winter in store

By Clif Knight

As you can probably tell, cold weather has already had its way in North Alabama. A winter storm delivered the season’s first measurable snow, three days of sub-freezing cold, and record-breaking utility bills.

Groundhog Day was Feb. y 2 when, according to tradition, it sneaks out of hibernation to look around and assess the future of winter weather. On that Groundhog Day, it saw its shadow and supposedly returned to its burrow, signifying six more weeks of winter to come.

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the groundhog’s guesswork but I can look out our north side kitchen window an see some of mixed signs of coming weather. For example, the thorn bush that is usually full of red blossoms in January is bare of foliage. I have never known it not to bloom in the first weeks of the New Year. On the other hand, wild onion plants are scattered throughout our yard, daffodils are blooming in our flowerbeds and buds are swelling on the limbs of our giant backyard Bradford pear tree. Soon, the yellow buds of dandelions will dot the yard and it will be time for the riding lawnmower to take over.

A good general cleanup outside will be the first order of business when the temperature warms up a bit. Late-falling leaves from shade trees have to be picked up and carted off to my mulch pile and hundreds of dead limbs from trees have to be picked up and sent to the city dump.

A considerable amount of work remains to be done in my garden before the next growing season. Tomato cages, green bean sticks and dead garden plants are still standing and need to be removed as well as row after row of dead weeds and grass. If you have a tractor that’s equipped with a disc harrow or mulcher, it can be used to crush the waste and mix it with the soil with soil. This is a good way to conserve moisture and produce nutrients for future crops.

With inflation taking a big bite out of the food dollar, any investment you make to grow and preserve your own fruits and vegetables will pay off big time. A small backyard garden is all the space you need to grow vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers and green beans. All you’ll need is money for seed and fertilizer, a few hand tools and a strong back.

 

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