More winter to come
By Clif Knight
As you can see, cold weather is having its way in north Alabama. Sub-freezing temperatures in January brought us our first measurable snow, and more is in the making if the weather prognosticator is right.
Groundhog Day was Feb. 2. According to tradition, the holiday’s namesake sneaks out of hibernation to look around and assess the future of winter weather. On this year’s Groundhog Day, the critter saw its shadow and supposedly returned to its hole, signifying six more weeks of winter weather.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of a groundhog’s guesswork, but I can see some of the signs of warmer weather.
For example, the thorn bush that is visible through our north-facing kitchen window is full of red blossoms. I have never known it not to bloom in January.
Wild onion plants are scattered throughout our yard, early daffodils are popping up 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 corn stalks 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 and turning plow, it can be used to crush the waste and mix it with the soil. This is a good way to conserve moisture and produce nutrients for future crops.
With inflation taking a bigger bite out of the food dollar, any investment you make to grow 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 a few dollars for seed and fertilizer, a few hand tools and a strong back.