Tuesday, February 4, 2020

February...A Time to Garden?

Awww... it's February, and spring is in the air, as cold as that air might be. Here in the Deep South where I live, I have seen the first bluebirds and a robin or two. And that means time to pull out seed catalogs and begin planning the garden.

Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies, and by gardening, I mean the growing of vegetables and fruits. We have fig trees, apple trees, peach trees, pecan trees, and a few other fruit trees. We grow turnips, collards, tomatoes, okra, peas, butterbeans, peppers, and my favorite, squash. It's too early for many of those, although around the middle of the month, we will be planting our turnip seeds. My collard plants look as if they have survived the winter, and I don't anticipate having to buy more.

Another activity my husband and I will engage in this month, if the Lord and we are willing, is to prune our fruit trees, and perhaps invest in a few more. What does this have to do with historical life? Not so long ago, most families had their own kitchen garden. We forget that fruits and vegetables were not always so abundant in the stores, even if you were lucky enough to live near one that sold perishable goods. Most goods in the general stores were staples, such as flour, and cornmeal, perhaps meat that had been cured, salt, and perhaps a few more common spices.

And thus the need for a kitchen garden and the need to take the month of February to prepare the soil and prune the trees.

Most planted fruit trees near their cabin for convenience.
In my last Lockets & Lace book, Joy, Unending Joy finds a job as an apple picker in Lonely Grove, Texas. She goes on to learn to can apple jams and jellies and is the best apple pie maker in Lonely Grove. So good is she that the local restaurant asks her to supply them with desserts, mostly made with those delicious apples from the Lonely Grove Orchard.
Apple pie is my favorite!
So, in February, what would the Lonely Grove Orchard workers be doing? Pruning the apple trees, of course. Pruning opens up the canopy to sunlight and proper air circulation. The very first rule of pruning is to remove any dead or damaged branches. The second rule is to prune so that branches are not crossing. If the branches rub against each other because of the crossing, it can lead to damaged branches and may introduce diseases into the tree. The apple tree should only have one leader branch, otherwise the tree will become weak. Any competing leader branches should also be pruned. And that's a few basics of pruning.
An apple tree, ready to be pruned.
The apple tree was and still is the most popular fruit tree grown in gardens.  Much of the popularity of the apple tree is due to John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845) who traveled to several states and helped farmers establish nurseries for the propagation of apple trees, contrary to the image we usually have of him of throwing seeds wherever he went. Yes, his nickname was Johnny Appleseed.

Perhaps due to Johnny Appleseed's influence, apple orchards became common across America, such as Lonely Grove Orchard. I am in the process of creating a new series set near that very orchard.  In Joy, Unending, the story ends with Tristan planning to build a school. Joy will continue creating her jellies and jams and her apple desserts for the school children. I can't wait to share some upcoming news with you about that soon. Stay tuned!

If you garden, please tell us about it in the comments. In the meantime, happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. I love to garden but am terrible at it. I finally became more successful when I started trying to grow things that seem to do fine along the interstate. lol