My New Year’s Eve celebration was limited to a couple of Samuel Adams Winter Lagers, I just love the shape of the glass – the beer is pretty good too- while waiting in the airport in sunny Florida. I was lucky enough to be with my best friend, my wife Kathy and our “favorite” youngest child Joe.  I dozed off on the flight back to Houston dreaming of getting my hands back into the dirt in my little backyard garden. I was planning the work needed to prepare for spring……and the crazy thing is, our spring weather may start at any time during January! This morning though, it was a bit brisk  35 F, about 2 C for you folks on the other scale….so I wore a sweater with my short pants and to the horror of my children – socks with my sandals!

Yesterday was the 2nd day of the new year and a warmer than this morning. I knocked a few things off of my to-do-list. I have been anxiously waiting for the asparagus ferns to die…..they didn’t cooperate so I wacked them off – to my Australian friends, Geoff, Charles and Alan…do not manipulate the word wack….I know what is running through your brains, so, stop it right now! – back to the asparagus…I then top dressed with some good aged compost from my bins….2011 vintage, and then added a 3-4 inch layer of leaves to help smother the weeds- those nasty little buggers that can take over the bed if not managed.

I finally got around to removing the green bean vines and poles. It took just a few minutes and I don’t know why I waited so long….maybe it has to do with my usual tendency for procrastination ….as I wrote those few previous words I felt a little guilty because – here  I am, sitting on a half-finished project for a “paying” client and I am filling my free time with random & rambling thoughts. The paycheck for the real work is 60 days or more out into the future and the “fun” I have writing is my  immediate gratifcation…….I think I am contradicting some of the advice I have given my children…I have told them to work hard and not focus on the “instant gratification” sought out by so many!!!!! Sorry kids, you need to get a little instant gratification every now and then…it helps you smile! Dad also says…….don’t over do it!

Oh yes, the beans….. That bed, a 4X25 foott bed, is now sitting mostly idle as it is shaded most of the day. I had overseeded it with buckwheat in the early fall as a green manure. This bed is loaded with earthworms……to the delight of my 16 year son, who is a fishing fool! Fortunately he doesn’t fish day and night which could wreak havoc on the worm population! The winter solstice has come and gone allowing the shade to begin  creeping southward to start warming up the entire garden area. I also managed a quick courtesy call to John’s garden beds, I  watered, weeded and added some compost to the original bed. John, FYI – turnips and radishes are already up!

The photo below right  shows a good portion of my main garden beds. Unseen in this photo are two , 4X8 foot beds behind me, one of which has the asparagus and just beyond the fence along the back fence is a bed with 75+ strawberry plants….all ground level so the slugs and rollie-pollies can have a tasty snack in the spring. It really is a competition between me and the bugs to save the berries….chemicals would kill the critters but they would also find their way into my strawberry jam…I can’t have that, so, I am willing to share a little. You can just make out the edge of my compost bins to the left, also on the left are the strawberry towers, some blackberry vines, a potting table at the far end, a bit of storage to the right and lots of bare spots waiting for more seeds and warmth. The left photo shows a bit of what lies outside the gate to my dirt paradise. On the right side is one end of the ground level strawberries against my back fence. For some reason Sam Adams wanted a little more exposure so it is at the bottom of the post…..(I couldn’t figure out how to remove it without buggering up the post)  TTFN – Bishop