I'm a hip kinda gal. I have an iPod. I'm writing this via WiFi on my laptop, and the LCD TV is on in the background, coming to my home via satellite dish. So why am I so enthralled by a publication that touts "Old Time Ways to Grow & Use Fruits, Flowers & Vegetables" and says it's written for "gentle country folk."
Because this publication was started by Ben Franklin, that's why! It's the Farmer's Almanac. And this 2008 Seasonal Gardening Guide is filled with some really interesting information.
Beyond the monthly calendars of sunrises and sunsets, astronomy charts and notable days, there are suggestions for each month as to what chores should be accomplished in the garden. For example, in January we were told to clear the garden of debris, to remove any unwanted trees and shrubs and to start pruning deciduous trees.
For February, we're told to prune grapevines, fruit trees, raspberries and shrubs that bloom in the summer and from flowers on this year's wood (last year's green shoots) - hydrangeas and butterfly bushes are good examples. We're told to wait until the end of the month to prune roses.
The section on gardening by the moon phases is fascinating. While I understand the parts about planting and fertilizing, there's a suggested time for digging post holes that has me a bit baffled. (What difference does it make when I dig a hole for a post?) Anyway, here's what the almanac says about specific tasks:
Composting: between full moon and new moon
Pest control: between first quarter moon and full moon
Cutting down trees: between last quarter moon and new moon
Fertilizing: between first quarter moon and full moon
Plant flowers: between new moon and first quarter moon
Weeding: between last quarter and new moon
I'm guessing that the reason I'm not crazy about weeding is because I've been doing it in the wrong moon phase. Or maybe it's just because I'm not crazy about weeding.
Calling all bird watchers
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes. It's free, fun and easy - and it helps the birds. This year's count will be held Feb. 15-18.