From My Carolina Home

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January In the Garden 2018

For those of us who enjoy digging in the dirt, the cold part of winter is a time for planning. It is a time of thinking about what I’d like to grow in the veggie garden this year, and looking for some new flowers for the perennial beds. Long time readers may recognize this silver pot with the large bulb as my red amaryllis. It is coming up again, for the fifth year! I’ve never had one live this long, and I am excited to see if it blooms again.

Amaryllis Year 5 at From My Carolina Home

A couple of weeks later, and it is growing nicely, still no flower spike yet.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A gift from a friend over the holidays, I now have a rosemary plant. I have never had much luck with these, so I’ll be carefully tending it over the winter then planting it outside next spring.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Caring for the plants brought inside is a bit of a challenge as we get so very little sunlight actually coming in the windows, only a sliver is available in the mornings. The entire front of our home is glass, but the large verandah overhang limits the direct sunlight except in winter when the sun is lower to the south. Pulling back the curtain early and rotating the plants that get the direct light through the window is a daily chore. Today, the white amaryllis, my rosemary plant, a succulent and a bulb get the light for about an hour.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

There aren’t many chores for January, especially when it is so bloody cold. It is a great time to sit in front of the fireplace and look at gardening books and magazines, read the Farmer’s Almanac, peruse the seed catalogs, and dream.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This book, Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady, was a Christmas gift from DH.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

It is a totally charming book of poetry and art by Edith Holden. It is divided into chapters by month, and is just enchanting.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

It is available at my Amazon link – Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Before the new year, the turkeys came back for a short visit. I noticed them in the lower meadow, and stepped outside with some bread for them. They came running and I had to move fast to get a pic of them coming. This small flock has seven females. At this point in time, I had not seen a male for quite some time.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Bites of bread were thrown in different directions to make sure everybody got a few. They came back one more day, and then apparently moved on.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Sunsets are sometimes really lovely, when the clouds are still drifting by. Even as cold as it has been, the valley views are spectacular.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This cold has brought the birds in large numbers to the feeders. DH is having to refill them almost every other day.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

This larger woodpecker has figured out how to get some of the food, even though he is too big to get inside the cage.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

A flock of about a dozen goldfinches is taking advantage of the bounty, sometimes all of them will be on the three feeders at once, but that has proved difficult to catch in pictures.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Some readers have asked about how I keep the squirrels out of the feeder, so here is the setup from a distance so you can see the whole thing. The top feeder is almost 9 feet off the ground, with the others hanging slightly below. The pole is far enough away from the house and the trees so the squirrels cannot jump to it. The baffle below is a tube baffle to prevent them from climbing up the pole.  We remove the lower feeder and the suet feeder in the warm months to keep the bears from getting them.  But they are hibernating now, so we can put more food out for the birds.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

It is available on Amazon – Audobon Torpedo Steel Squirrel Baffle.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

The female cardinal is coming regularly, she doesn’t migrate so she depends on our feeder.  The male often comes by to eat too, and sometimes they come together.

January in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

I have a head start on the veggies with the seeds saved from this year’s crops and meals. See how I saved seeds Here.  The Farmer’s Almanac says the best days to plant seeds for indoor head starts will be February 5-7, so I need to set aside some time then to get the grow lights cranked up and the potting soil ready.

November cards at From My Carolina Home

Craftsy has gardening classes on sale now! Click on Gardening Online Classes including Craftsy Unlimited Free Trial!

A couple of days ago, this young male turkey paid us a visit.  He may have been here before, as he readily began to cluck-purr when he saw me come out with a bit of bread for him.  I am hoping that the flock will return soon.

Young Male Turkey at From My Carolina Home

Back inside, when I planted all the bulbs in October, I held out a hyacinth bulb to force indoors.  It has taken it forever to root, probably because it wasn’t chilled for forcing.  But it has finally made some long roots into the bulb vase, and is beginning to look like it is going to put up a flower.  There is a second little stem coming up from the bottom and side of the bulb, and I go back and forth as to whether or not to pinch that off.  On one hand, it might be taking energy away from the main bulb, but on the other hand, it might grow enough to create another separate bulb for planting.  Would you keep it?

January in the Garden at

What is going on in your garden?  Gardens must be getting lovely for readers ‘down under’ in NSW, New Zealand, and Australia.  Are you in a planning mode?  When do you plan to start your seeds?




Starting seeds inside

Every January, my mind goes to starting seeds for the spring.  I cannot tell you how many years I have done this, most of the time failing miserably. Either I plant the seeds too soon, or the seedlings get root rot, or never come up at all.  It is why the owner of my local garden center likes me so much, I always end up buying seedlings.  Yet, these little jump-ups appeared in the driveway last spring as complete volunteers.


What is it about that seed catalog that comes in the mail this time of year?  It is a gardeners thing, to dream of tomatoes and flowers, sweet yellow peppers and juicy strawberries when it is freezing cold outside.  I love looking at them, but when they want $11 in shipping for four packets of seeds (it’s based on the total cost, not weight), I’ll get them at the local garden center instead.  I enjoy browsing the internet too, and found these lovely antique seed catalog covers courtesy of the Smithsonian Library.  Aren’t they wonderful?

AlneerCatalog ChildsSeed1898 FrotscherSeedCo    GeneralSeed  StecklerSeed1899  StorrsSeed

So now I’ll dig out my gardening books to look at the pictures and figure when to start the seeds.  Every year I swear it is going to be different, and this year is no exception.  I have a new idea of how to keep the seeds warm and moist.  Our last frost date is April 22, so I need to plant the seeds about 8 weeks ahead of that date.  That puts planting time around Feb 25 – March 5.  Just so happens that is the time of the moon ideal for planting above ground crops and flowers, from new moon to full moon, according to my new Farmer’s Almanac calendar.

I have been saving these plastic cartons for a while.  These are the ones that the grocery stores sells baked goods in.  It occurred to me that they are really the ideal size for starting seeds, plus the lid closes to create a tiny greenhouse.

plastic containers

Plastic container

They have flat tops and bottoms, so they are stackable in the window for sunlight and warmth.

Seeds stacked 2

This is the winter I am going to try growing torenias from seed. I have the seed-starting soil ready, and the outside marked.  Now all I need are seeds, which should show up in the garden center any day now.

seeds sown and labeled

I brought the Christmas Cactus inside and watered it in October when it got cooler. I have ignored it all summer. I did this too soon, because it bloomed before Thanksgiving.

Christmas Cactus buds

Pretty flowers, aren’t they? I took these photos in November.

Christmas Cactus white

Christmas Cactus pink

The violets haven’t bloomed in years. January is a good time to clean them up, and add more soil to their pots.  They need feeding too, if I ever hope to have them bloom again.

African violets

So I have my containers and potting mix ready for the end of February so I can start on the garden.  Until then, I have lots of books to play with and plan.

Did you bring in any of your plants? How do you start seeds?