The New Year has started in very pleasant fashion for gardeners and gardens here in Southeast Texas. Our soil is moist from all the rains we had in December. The temperatures are cool but moderate and so far the sunshine has been plentiful. It's been quite a contrast to the starts that we've had to the last couple of years. Let us hope this pleasant trend continues.
As the old year ended, my mailbox was being daily flooded by seed catalogs. Recently, I've spent a lot of time poring over them, trying to make the difficult choices of what to plant this year. I'm thinking particularly about the vegetable garden just now. I've decided to get some new seed starter trays with heated pads to get seeds started in my unheated garage. But which seeds to purchase?
Tomatoes have been problematic in my garden the last couple of years. They just haven't done well at all. I'm looking to try something different this year. I have my eye on four heirloom varieties: 'Black Krim,' 'Rutgers,' 'Mortgage Lifter,' and 'Cherokee Purple.' None of them are varieties I'm likely to find in nurseries here, but if I start my own seeds, they should be ready to go into the garden by early March. True, I may have to give them extra protection from late frosts, but the sooner I get them growing the more likely they will be able to produce fruit for me before the REALLY hot weather gets here. That has been my problem in recent years. It just gets too hot too early. Once the temperatures are above 90 degrees on a daily basis, the plants shut down and stop producing.
The heat is less of a problem for eggplants and peppers, but I want to get some of those plants started early as well, along with summer squash.
Elsewhere in the garden, I need a blueberry bush to replace one that didn't make it through the heat and drought of last year. I also want to plant some strawberries and find spots for other small fruit trees in the yard.
In addition, there are a few more perennials and shrubs that need to be moved and then it is time to start pruning and cleaning up the frost-killed plants. Truly, a gardener's work is never done, but on such beautiful winter days as today, it all at least seems possible. Even the weeding.
Welcome 2012. Please be gentle with us.