Resolutions: Forget growing a big pumpkin and put nice, winter days to good use

Published 4:24 pm Friday, January 3, 2020

My resolution for the New Year is a continuation of recent years’ resolution; to reduce spring fever as much as possible.

I’m past longing for warmer, longer days so I can get more done out there. Plowing, mowing, weeding, mending fences and all that spring fun have morphed into senior citizen chores. I still do them, just not as enthusiastically and not all day long and not in the heat.

These days my favorite season for yard and garden work is right now, the dead of winter. Granted, there are not many nice days for such right now and those days end early, both of which suit me fine.

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Don’t get me wrong; I still like my roses and I prune, mulch, plant replacements and fertilize all before the first official day of spring in late March. I do have to wait for warm season growth to de-weed the pond and ward off leaf blackspot fungi. And just because a gardener ages, the needed soil temperature for tomato transplants and sprouting cucumber seeds remains unchanged.

But the things that will work if done in winter rather than spring or summer I’ll try to get done soon.

I guess I should be an Irish potato and English pea fan in the vegetable garden because planting time for those will be here before long, in late winter. But English peas don’t appeal to me and I eat so few potatoes, the store-bought ones will do.

A delicious “new potato” eating for me would be like my mustard green history; once a year is enough.

I do enjoy edible pod sugar snap peas, but the success rate growing those here is way too iffy to suit me. They have to be planted early because they turn into stringy junk with warm weather of mid-April.

Back when I planted them in January or early February a freeze got them and after a couple of replants it was too late for success. So I gave up on sugar snaps.

Hats off to folks who get them done right most years.

A new resolution this go round is to quit foolishly trying to grow a really large pumpkin.

There are pumpkin varieties that will produce this far south, including some that can be planted in June for fall harvest. But I got determined to try a variety grown in the northeast U.S. and Canada where giant pumpkins are a matter of pride and competition.

I knew I wouldn’t get close to their thousand pounders, but I was thinking significantly bigger than normal for here might happen.

Mulching, watering, using tin foil to deter vine borers and limiting each vine to just one fruit didn’t do it. The huge leaves drooped most all day every day June to September and the solo pumpkins each were decaying inside by the time the outside looked harvestable. This is not giant pumpkin territory.

Whenever possible, use pleasant winter days for spring and summer garden chores; my New Year resolution once again.

 

Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.