Gardener's Grapevine 2012.11.07

Written by David Green.

I’ve finally had a little time to do some new gardening research and reading. I like the Michigan State University website for a lot of reasons, but for research it can’t be beat. While logging in on Sunday afternoon, I noticed a new section that just screamed to be shared. It is called a Garden Calendar Tip Sheet, and is basically a month-by-month breakdown of where and what you should be doing for each month. The month of November just says to soil test as the testing sites are less busy in this month than in others. It made sense to me. I use a home testing kit when I get around to it, but a lab test would of course be much better and accurate. At any rate it’s a website worth bookmarking.

If you read this column regularly you know my son is a student at Michigan State. It goes without saying that Art and I make many pilgrimages up to the campus in East Lansing, not only to take supplies, but because we miss our youngest. My son Nick is a lot of fun, but gardening has never been his idea of relaxation. In fact, I would say he considers it a form of torture.

I tried with both my children to instill an enthusiasm for gardening. While my son loves to cook and is great at it, growing it is another matter. He likes organics, but prefers to purchase them, not grow them. So in all the trips to MSU I have never been privy to the knowledge that there are 14 acres of gardens open to the public with walking and jogging paths. Shame on him for not enlightening me, but that changed when I started reading the website and clicked on horticulture at MSU, which is a whole other section of their website. They talk about the different sculptures and distinctive gardens you can take ideas from, and the new and ever changing species of plants available. I guess my son will have to go golfing with his dad when we visit now because I’m checking this out.

This weekend they were featuring a display called Yarn Bombing which looked interesting. There were more pictures on the site than actual descriptions; essentially it looked like the trunks of trees were wrapped in long lengths of knitted sweater pieces creating a unique piece of art. There are a lot of pictures on the website. This site offers a calendar of events so if you are going to be in the area you can drop in. On Nov. 6 they are offering a class on “putting your tools to bed” which teaches you what tools are needed for your type of gardening and how to clean, oil and store them over the winter to take good care of them. I guess throwing them in the shed and asking Art to sharpen them in the spring is not the best plan, but it has seemed to work for me for the last 30 years.

On Dec. 5 there is a class on making a three seasons wreath and being able to bring it home for your décor.

While I am on December, let me remind you that the Congregational Church has it’s annual Bazaar and luncheon the first Saturday in December and there are many great gift ideas available—plus the food rocks. There are lots of pies, homemade soups and beyond yummy sandwiches. So mark your calendar and come do some shopping, have a nice lunch, and visit with folks you haven’t seen in a while. It’s one of the few times I don’t mind being inside.

This time of year can get so crazy busy, but don’t forget to do some truly fun things just because you need some fun after all the weeklong craziness. We all work hard all year long and it’s just nice to relax during the winter months. And folks, the holidays are much more enjoyable if you take some of the stress off yourself and just do some fun things. Take a class, bake with a friend or child, visit or attend a function like the bazaar where you encounter a relaxed environment with old or new friends. And at least once this winter visit the MSU horticulture website.

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