Looking Forward

We don’t get a lot of nice sunny days in January as they are very rare. When we do get one, I love to be out under the deep blue sky and feel the sun reflecting off the white snow as it really lifts me up. It helps me to spend more time out of doors, getting a bit of exercise, and connecting with nature by admiring some of the interesting snowdrifts and landscape.

Using the winter months as a natural break from gardening can give you time to have a rest and get ready for the upcoming season. During this ‘quiet time’ I ask myself if there is anything new that I want to try? What did I learn last year that I want to incorporate into future plans for my gardens? Are there any problems that I have not figured out yet? The answers to these questions gives me direction on what I can focus on in the winter months.

This brings me to the thought of some of the problems people have with large pests such as raccoons, skunks, or crows eating corn and other veggies. There are a number of tips that you can consider when trying to address some of these pests. Where possible, I try to plant the garden close to my house as some wild animals will be deterred by that. Having a dog walk around your garden to spread its scent around will also fend off some types of animals. If you don’t have a dog, invite a pet-loving friend with their dog over from time to time to spread its scent around the garden. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll have no problems, just reduces the possibility of pest issues happening. If you have rabbits or perhaps marauding geese, who just happen to love those fresh succulent transplants you put in your garden, putting up a mesh wire fence can usually do the trick. With more persistent animals making their way in, you may need to consider putting up a small electric fence around the perimeter of your garden.

Some birds can be deterred a little bit by strips of metallic foil tape that are tied throughout your garden. These sparkle in the sunlight and distract some animals. Another type of tape deterrent is one stretched tight around the perimeter of the garden. It makes a high-pitched vibration as the wind blows it. Crows are extremely intelligent and your garden may require several layers of protection from them. Your flower gardens can also be a place where cats like to lay and enjoy the shade, and damage plants in the process. To deter this, you could place mothballs on the flower bed. Mothballs should not be used near a garden though, because you do not want to contaminate your veggies. Fortunately, the benefits of gardening far outweigh the challenges of the various pests.

Another item to keep you busy in the winter months is to take courses on gardening. Many Community Schools have gardening classes which can be a lot of fun because everyone in the room is interested in the same thing. You can learn something and maybe share some of what you have learned. You may even meet up with a neighbor you weren’t aware was interested in gardening and enjoy the passion together. Bring your gardening journal to class and spread your information. Dream of warmer days ahead.

Well, I guess that is all for now. In early January the new seed catalogues will start to arrive which signals the pending start of the next season. I cannot wait for the excitement.

Stay safe. Happy gardening.

About Christopher Dunbar

Christopher lives in western PEI along with his spouse and 4 kids, on a property that was once owned by his great grandparents. He grew up in a large farming family and has deep island roots. This rural background and exposure to outdoor living has given him a keen interest in our maritime culture and the many plant types that grow here. He furthered his interest in growing things by obtaining a master’s degree in in plant biology. Not surprisingly, all of his 25-year career has been involved in agriculture and food. He spends some of his spare time growing berries, flowers, vegetables and tree fruits of all kinds in his gardens. He and his family really enjoy the unique lifestyle that PEI has to offer.
Writing creatively about adventures in rural living is also one of his passions. Feel free to contact him if you want to share any of your interests.

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