Getting ready for winter

Susan Manzke

Last week I wrote about harvesting our soybeans. With fieldwork mostly done it was time to finish work around the house.

Columnist Susan Manzke trims away at her geranium plants she rescued from the cold.

The afternoon was chilly, but not too bad. Even so, Bob and I worked as fast as we could—all our extra helpers were at their real jobs which meant no extra help here.

Bob hand-tilled the soil with a fork so I could put spring bulbs in place. First we went to the raised beds (tractor tires) where my tomatoes had been.

Some of the bulbs that went into the soil had bloomed once before and then had been dug up after they had gone dormant. I hoped that saving them would mean more flowers next year—only time will tell.

The saved bulbs went together in one tire along with some newly purchased bulbs—I expect better luck with these fresh ones. The newer ones always outdo the recycled tulips, but I have hopes all will be successful here this time.

The second raised bed (another tractor tire) was planted with all bought bulbs. Next spring I’ll be able to compare the two plantings and see how the saved bulbs stack up against the new ones.

Like planting winter wheat or rye, when setting out bulbs I’m already looking forward to spring’s arrival. The idea of color brightening our yard again always gives me hope that winter will end with plants peeking out from their winter hibernation.

After I evened out the soil, the beds were covered with straw to tuck all in for the cold weather.

Next Bob and I discussed the problems the chickens could causet o the flower beds. In the past they have jumped up and given themselves dirt baths in the freshly turned soil. They did this after scratching off the straw. To avoid doing the work all over again Bob brought out some wood that would cover the straw beds and deter the chickens.

A third tire was planted nearer the backdoor. After all that I still had a few bulbs left. I decided to work my way around the house, finding spots where the sun would reach, warming the ground first in the spring. I dug holes in these spots without Bob’s help using one of those garden seat/kneelers, giving my back a rest—since I don’t like to kneel I mostly bend or squat when working on the ground.

These plants are safe from the frosty temperatures that moved into the state last week.

I don’t have raised beds around the house. To help my back, I sat on the garden seat with it level on the sidewalk. From this position I could sit and reach the soil easily. After setting in groups of bulbs, I scooted a few feet down the sidewalk and dug a hole for a few more flowers.

With all the bulbs in, I continued around the house, pulling and clipping out old growth. That’s when it happened. I went around the corner and set the seat on uneven ground … not a good placement. Over I went! Luckily I didn’t get hurt, but I did ache later.

The cold temps meant my houseplants needed to come in off the back porch and inside for the winter.

The spider plants had grown many branches with little spider plants attached over the summer. I trimmed the babies off and set them into water. I wasn’t about to throw them out, but now I have to find homes for the babies. The adult plants went upstairs—extra exercise for me.

Geraniums were trimmed, too. The last of the growing flowers were clipped off and put in water to brighten our kitchen for a couple days. The plants were trimmed some and then put in the basement to hibernate until April, when hopefully they will sprout and will start to grow.

I trimmed the houseplants in the kitchen because I was cold. I’ll have to make a note to do this work on a nicer day next year. I’m still finding bits and pieces of plants.

Now bulbs are set for spring. Hope is in the air again and fingers crossed. Spring will return!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;