YOUR HOMETOWN GARDENER

Paul and Nila Dowlearn-Owners of Wichita Valley Nursery. Paul’s recent books, “The Lazy Man’s Garden” and “Touch the Earth” are available at the Nursery, 5314 S.W. Pkwy, Wichita Fall, Texas.

Be it a day early or a day late when you read this… Merry Christmas ya’ll.

This is the time when all who live in North and South America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and even much of Africa and Asia will come together to celebrate the birth of a child that changed the world. Regardless of race, religion, or politics, all is put aside for a short period as we get together for much needed rest, relaxation, and sharing. So, eat well, sleep well, be well, and above all be thoughtful and kind.

The winter solstice (shortest daylight hours) passed us on Saturday, Dec. 21st. From that day forward the tilt of the Earth brings the sun closer to us that live in the northern hemisphere. Conversely, down south in Argentina, they are also celebrating Christmas but the 21st for them is the longest day… Summer solstice. Reckon they use snowmen in their decorations?

Having always wondered about the significance of Christmas being so close to the winter solstice I was delighted to hear a historian interviewed on the radio regarding this subject on Saturday. According to this guy, 2,019 years ago the 25th of December likely was the winter solstice of that time. This being a fact that our clocks and mathematics are not entirely accurate (we later invented a “Leap Year” to get us caught up). To me this was significant. Christ was actually born in Bethlehem (northern hemisphere). The longest, darkest night of the year begins what is now called the year 1 A.D.

Another fact that brings us all together (regardless of race, religion, politics) is that all people worldwide recognize this as the correct date. A.D. is Anno Domini, Latin for “The Year of our Lord.” B.C. means (in English) “Before Christ.” So, on this special night of the winter solstice time was counted forward while in B.C. we count backward. Something to think about … Maybe confusing to some but I like it so I decided to share.

Gardening? Oh yeah,… Well, Jesus chose to use the subject as he taught in stories (called parables) that the people of that time could easily relate to. Gardening, farming, and plants were among His favorite topics. Being well fed (feasting) was just as important in daily life then as it is now. Feasting on Christmas Day is pretty much one of the most enjoyable ways we celebrate.

On a different topic now, have you ever wondered about the significance of morning dew? This past week we saw mornings with frost, heavy dew, and this Sunday morning we saw fog (basically a cloud at ground level). Everything was dripping wet. All of these are directly related to humidity. Plants love this!

During these wet intervals that occur when the temps are low, and the humidity is high all plants (even those dormant trees) get rehydrated. This is extremely important and exactly why our cool season crops in Texoma are the most reliable. We are much more likely to reach the dew point during winter than we are in summer. Plants can absorb moisture through all parts both above and below ground. Even through the bark of those leafless branches. On mornings such as this when we get an extended period of fog, I reckon those surface roots get a decent shot as well. This is precipitation that does not get measured by rain gauges. However, I know that morning dew (frost, ice, fog) is a life saver for plants as they wait for the next rainy spell.

Like the rest of you, I get frustrated when I’m running late but I must wait for the defroster to warm enough the clear the windshield. In my case though I do find some solace that moisture is moisture and that helps all the plants. It all counts whether measured and reported or not.

“Does it die during winter?” I always cringe when I hear that asked. I’ve always wanted to do a field trip in January so I can point out the fact that there is a whole lot of green stuff out there. When you get down to it, often as not there is more “brown stuff” visible in August than during winter. Still, I never hear, “Does it die during summer?” Yet those cool season plants mostly do go away by late spring. Something else to ponder… Everything is not a tomato.

January is our coldest month on average but be of good cheer in the knowledge that every day we get another minute or two of sunlight. Spring is well and truly on the way. Time for planting onions and potatoes is upon us. Cool season crops can still go in on the nicer days. A good book or seed catalog can comfort us on the cold days.

Australia (summer for them) is setting heat records and burning like California right now. Pray for those folks and pray that this does not portend our future for next summer. Meanwhile the Climate Summit in Madrid decided to vote not to decide anything at all for this year!!?? Where were you Greta Thunberg??

Enjoy these holidays. Let’s enter this New Year with renewed faith, optimism, and plenty of compost. Come see us…

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.