Prepare the garden.
Don’t let cooler temperatures keep you from enjoying the magic of winter and this holiday season.
It can be easy to forget to winterize the garden amidst the excitement of decorating, parties and family time. But, a little preparation now can pay off when spring arrives.
Winterize garden tools with these tips:
- Remove dried and caked-on dirt with a wire brush, rinse and dry thoroughly.
- Sharpen dull tools using a whetstone or file.
- Sand off any rust spots with fine sandpaper or steel wool, and coat the metal with vegetable oil.
- Wipe a light coating of linseed oil or paste wax on wooden handles to preserve them and prevent cracking or splitting.
- Store small tools in a bucket of sand soaked in oil to further deter rust; hang rakes and shovels in an easy-to-access spot.
- Ensure water hoses are properly drained and coiled correctly, not kinked.
- On your mower, be sure to clean and sharpen the blades (residue can encourage rust). Avoid storing gasoline in your mower over the winter; transfer it to your car’s engine instead.
Prepare the garden bed for the cooler temperatures:
- Clear out the blackened stems and foliage of annual flowers and vegetables to prevent disease and insects from overwintering in the garden.
- Believe it or not, a lot of activity takes place beneath the soil until it freezes. Now is a good time to spread a new layer of organic mulch to protect plants and soil during the winter months.
- Mulch bulb beds with evergreen boughs to protect the soil from shifting during the winter.
- Cut back dry stems of perennials to soil level after frost.
- Cut off and trash diseased foliage from evergreen plants and shrubs. Rake up and discard the old, disease-bearing mulch, too.
- To prevent rodents from nesting in the soil, wait until the ground freezes before adding a 6-inch layer of organic material as winter mulch.
- Mulch perennial and shrub beds with pine needles or chopped leaves. This protects both plant roots and the soil, and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter freezes and thaws.
When you’re ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of the season, join us for a holiday tour on the farm. Offered every Thursday and Friday through Dec. 18, the holiday open house features a seasonal lunch and guided tours of the house and gardens. Let the holiday lunch offer inspiration for your own holiday meal with a fresh pear salad, grilled pork tenderloin, spicy peas, roasted sweet potatoes and the farm’s famous buttermilk pecan pie. Tickets are $90 and can be purchased at www.pallensmith.com.
Holidays on the farm
Decorating your home for the holidays is a great way to let your creativity shine and put your personality on display. Maybe you like the modern whimsy look with bright colors like hot pink and vivid green. Maybe your style is strictly traditional with lots of red, green and silver. On Moss Mountain Farm, we decorate with a mix of traditional greenery and a classic farm chic look.
Holiday decorating begins at my front door and entrance. I believe these entry points set the scene for the rest of the décor, and provide a welcoming holiday spirit to all those who visit your home. I start with a long garland framing the door. Many people opt for the ease of artificial greenery, but my traditionalist soul prefers fresh greenery. I feel ready for the holiday season when my home is filled with the perfume of fresh-cut greenery. Don’t forget the wreath. Let the size of the door determine what size and how many wreaths to use.
While my holiday decorating is traditional in taste, I like to refresh and renew by letting nature influence the theme and color palette. One year the theme was orange and chartreuse, which was heavily influenced by the vibrant orange of the clementine. As you move through the house decorating, the mantle is a great place to incorporate more elements of nature beyond evergreens into the decorating. Some hurricane candles on each side of the mantle with a mix of pinecones and wood berries gives the fireplace a cozy, holiday feeling. And don’t forget to hang the stockings with care.
For holiday entertaining, step up the decorating just a notch by wrapping trees or decorative topiaries out front with white twinkle lights. Mix in some taper or votive candles in table settings to add some sparkle and a festive touch to the event.
Stay true to holiday traditions that are meaningful to you and your family, but don’t be afraid to unleash your creativity and let the holiday spirit guide your decorating.