Lucky, one of our three barn cats and self proclaimed King of the Cats, supervises our winter task completion progress. Number one on his list is “Pet the King a lot”.

Some time ago, in November, Crystal commented to the blog with the following question” What do you do around the fall and winter months? What important tasks are there for gardeners to tend to during this time when the flowers are not blooming? Are you also the one who does the beekeeping? I read briefly about it on the blog but not much, is that project still ongoing?”

This fall we, and by we- I mean the people inside who actually know how to work the internet and things more complicated than a trowel, revamped the blog and moved its address. In that process, Crystal’s question got missed. In the dead of the winter, I work a lot from home- this is when I unearthed her comment and decided it would be a great blog post! It may take even more than one posting to answer her.

Firstly- In November, when she asked the question, I still had a huge number of garden jobs to complete before the “year end”. We were in the thick of Holiday decorating, in the middle on garden clean up, and not even started on the 16,000 plus bulbs I had ordered for fall planting. We had a long way to go before we would have the leisure to read seed catalogs next to a wood fire. So, where to begin; should I start from when the flowers stopped blooming or chronicle by calendar sequence? For organizational ease, I will start in January. If I am a good blogger, this will be a monthly feature.

Katie captured this beautiful sunset last night. Reason #3549 the east shore of Cayuga Lake is the best place to locate a business.

Garden Jobs:

  • Take down Holiday wreaths, trees, garlands. Compost plant components, store away bows, cones, test lights, organize, inventory, and store until next November
  • If gardens are free from snow cover, continue applying 2-3 inches of compost, taking care not to bury crowns
  • If heavy snows, knock snow off evergreens, especially arborvitae and boxwood, to avoid splitting damage

Animal Jobs:

  • Pick through fleeces, removing tags and vegetative debris to prep for sending off to wool mill for cleaning, carding and spinning
  • Check vet records of cows, sheep and cats to schedule annual vet checks and shot boosters
  • Check bee hives on warm days, add nutrient patties toward end of January to encourage queen to begin laying
  • Arrange for Libby, Brothaigh, and Dulcie to return from their “breeding holiday” with Odin

Property Jobs

  • Keep drives, parking lots, walks clear of snow and ice
  • Scrape and prep greenhouse
  • Re-install cold frame sashes
  • Wash and sanitize pots for plants
  • Extract and bottle fall harvested honey

Armchair Gardening Jobs

  • Review 2012 garden purchases, projects. Sort out the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
  • Plan 2013 projects
  • Review 2012 bulb planting, assemble lists, by garden
  • Plan and order seeds and plants for gardens 2013
  • Compose plant profile for every plant in gardens since 2007- this is my big goal for this year
  • Create a year beekeeping plan- order supplies as needed
  • Work with creative director and marketing director planning estate events for the year.

The plant search involves lots of reference material, various highlighters, and good coffee.

Well, this is a start. I can be kept quite busy with strictly administrative and planning type work in the “non-growing” portion of the year. With as estate as large and as diverse as MacKenzie-Childs, there is always something that needs doing. If I were only gardening for myself, likely I would not have quite so many tasks- that said, this list is much like the list we had as I was growing up on the farm. Clean and sharpen your tools, fix what is broken, plan for a better year, and hibernate a little.

Fred Bertram, one of our decorators, is also a fantastic photographer whose work we have been privileged to show on the blog. He shot this image of the Farmhouse last night as well.

 

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