Sunday, February 01, 2009

Time To Plan

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Just got the fire going again in the wood stove and the coffee has finished. 4 degrees above this morning which is considerably warmer than the below zero that was predicted. I checked the weather maps for the possible storm on Tuesday but not much is showing yet. After spending 4 hours yesterday on the tractor moving snow around in the driveways, I can accept a break.

February has arrived. We are halfway through winter but this is the time when big storms can come and temporary thaws are often followed by cold blasts and more snow. Two years ago around Valentines Day we received three feet of snow over much of Vermont and 42" here on the mountain. That's not the way you want to see snow arrive!

As soon as we finish with tax preparation, we begin to go over our plans for spring. Orders have to be checked and rechecked against inventories and the questions have to be tracked down. I keep telling Gail I want to put all the inventory on a hand held for her but she is still one of those pencil and paper people for lots of things. That's probably why we can't tell if we do or don't have that nice little 12" mound shaped Aruncus aethesifolius. It's not too handy looking for plants in the garden this time of year even if they are in neat rows. 4-5-6 feet of snow on the ground here depending on where you are.

Sometimes the plant wholesalers that you use for buying in new items don't help a lot either. Yesterday we received an order confirmation for a hosta named 'Faithful Heart'. Gail and I did one of those mutual "Did you order this?" moves but the answer was no. Gail mumbled away about another thing to add to her list which meant she had to call the company and remind them we have some other nursery's order coming here. We'll keep the order if the company can spare it because it's a nice mini hosta, a sport of Hosta 'Cheatin' Heart'. Miniature hostas are always popular and this one works well as a border plant or in rock gardens.

Despite the usual business interruptions, this is a good time to finish your planning. If for some reason you're one of those people who think you should kick up your hobby garden to a small business, take a few snowless minutes and read Tony Avent's book So You Want To Start A Nursery. Then follow up with one I bought Gail for Christmas. It's not new but it is very good.
The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski, Chelsea Green Publishing, 1997, 2008, is a great resource, full of pictures, grower bios and some nice business profiles from around the country. Between the two books, you can get a good sense of the business side of taking your hobby one step further and in either case the lessons that are offered apply to most businesses.

If your planning at this point is only for your personal gardens, catalogs and the Internet should get you where you want to be. In the daylily world in the 70's, a number of small daylilies were released with the prefix "little". Many of these plants were in the 16"-18" range and most had high bud counts. Here are four I have always liked that you might find space for.

Little Missy

Little Skipper

Little Bumblebee

Little Pumpkin Face

Regardless of where you live, this is the time for a little planning. If you are a vegetable or a wanna be vegetable gardener for 2009, plan early and get your seed purchases made early. Last year most seed suppliers set records selling out earlier than ever before. There's no doubt that with today's economy, we will see more gardeners than ever. Great gardens benefit from good planning. Give it a try!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where we are already up to 9 degrees and the birds are looking for breakfast. Have to get going here!

Good garden thoughts from The Vermont Gardener!

George Africa
Vermont Flower Farm
Vermont Gardens