Delicious scents of hyacinths and narcissus are wafted to distract from the winter weather.


By —— Bio and Archives--January 1, 2018

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Delicious scents of hyacinths and narcissus
Supermarket floral sections and local grocery stores are bursting forth with pots of spring-flowering bulbs. Delicious scents of hyacinths and narcissus are wafted to distract from the winter weather. Any and all add a similar touch to the home. True they will be fleeting visitors, but their sojourn can be prolonged with a little of the proverbial tender loving care. Bulbs are amazingly thirsty. Check twice a day. Position in bright light and keep as cool as possible. Avoid radiators or hot air vents. Flower stems will continue to elongate, and some support may be required. When the blooms fade, trim back their stalks but retain the foliage. Keep watering until the leaves fade, then allow to dry and store in a cool, dry place until they can be planted out in the garden. They may take a year or two to recover but why waste?

Diversion No. 1

“It’s the weeds that tell you to get out of your funk. They have no patience for dark thoughts and demand life-affirming action. Pulling out the judgemental bastards is the best therapy there is,” recommends Carly Thomas, The Dominion Post, calling it ‘weed-whacking happiness.”

The 10th January has been designated Houseplant Appreciation Day. (It is also said to be Peculiar People Day, but we’ll pass on that.) Dusty foliage lowers ability to photosynthesize. Smaller plants can be placed on the kitchen sink drainage tray for a thorough spritzing with tepid water. Larger plants may be treated to the same washdown in the bathtub, con brio. Since spider mites, the bane of overwintering houseplants, are discouraged by water this is also a method of protection against the pests—what might be termed ecosystem-based mitigation in greenie parlance.

Diversion No. 2

Brit farmers have been urged to bury their underpants. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) claim interring a pair of cotton underpants in a pasture can reveal vital information about soil fertility. According to the experts, sterile and lifeless soil will keep underwear intact, but organically thriving soil will eat away at the briefs, leaving nothing but the elastic waistband. Dig up the pants after just two months, and it is possible to judge how healthy the land is [The Daily Telegraph]

The 10th January is also Bitter Dark Chocolate Day. This must please Ek Chuah, the god of Maya merchants and cacao growers. The Maya of Central America had discovered the delights of the fermented ‘beans’ of the cacao tree. It was the Nahuatl, that western Europeans would later call ‘Aztecs,’ who used the products of the cacahuacuauhuitl tree as their currency. The end result was what we now call chocolate. This derives in a roundabout way from the Nahuatl word cacahuatl. Unfortunately, to the invading Conquistadors, caca designates excrement or human waste. Thus, the treat became chocolate. What Ek Chuah thinks has not been unrecorded.

Diversion No. 3

Can you pick your neighbour’s overhanging fruit? If the fruit is over the fence into your property, you have the right to pick it, assures ABC Radio Brisbane in Australia.

Is it a meteorological melee? Predictions are pricked like Donald Trump’s dreams as forecasters go head-to-head. So far, Environment Canada has game, set but perhaps not quite match. Milder winter over most of the country but not a record-breaker. The Weather Channel advised to “buckle up” for a wild winter and The Old Farmer’s Almanac—over 300 years old—fell somewhere between the two. Best advice: stay inside, care for the houseplants and plan for next season’s garden.

Diversion No. 4

‘An Apple a Day Will Keep Anyone Away If You Throw It Hard Enough’ restaurant sign observed by The Daily Mail

New Year’s Day sees a Full Moon. To the Algonquin peoples of eastern North America, January was that of the Wolf Moon, as the animals howled in hunger outside villages. Today, of course, it is Trump in the White House. On a happier theme, notable horticultural days this month include the 6th, somewhat strangely both Apple Tree Day and Bean Day. On to the 22nd and it is Squirrel Appreciation Day (yes you read that right) while the 28th is Seed Swap Day. All of which pales beside 4th January—Trivia Day. But surely Miss Markle will not miss the 12th, ‘Kiss a Ginger Day.’

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Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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