2021 December Gardening Tips by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
& author of Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast and Grow great Vegetables in Virginia
The unusually warm weather this month here in Virginia with its exceptionally lush harvest of greens hardy herbs and sweet winter roots makes it easy to forget we are near the shortest day of the year and it’s time to start think about next year’s garden. Before settling down in a comfy chair with all those 2022 catalogs flooding into your mailboxes take some time to inventory any seeds you saved and your leftover seeds. Read Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s Notes on Seed Saving and How to Test germination for help you decide which seeds to count on for next season’s garden.
As you start making your new garden plan, take time to seek out local resources to help. No one knows your gardening conditions like your fellow gardeners. For those in the Southeast, we recommend Pam Dawling’s Sustainable Market Farming or her newer The Year-Round Hoophouse, Cindy Conner’s Grow a Sustainable Diet. And the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable in the Southeast or one of her state specific vegetable gardening books like Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia by our own Ira Wallace. There are a number of online and digital tools to help with garden planning. You can try our Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Garden Planner free for 7 days to see how it works for you.
If you prefer in person learning Cindy, Pam and Ira as well as 60+ others will be presenting at the 2022 Virginia Biological Farming Conference Jan 22-24 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.The three day Conference includes: Pre-Conference intensive workshops, 63 concurrent sessions of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions, 50 tradeshow exhibitors, locally sourced farm meals and book sales with author signings. The Conference highlights include a Youth Program, a Silent Auction and networking opportunities including regional meetings and fireside chats, morning yoga for farmers and the Taste of Virginia Expo & Social.
Remember to wait until your greens have thawed from overnight freezing before harvesting in winter and to go through your stored winter vegetables like potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash every week or two and cull out all the bad ones. You cut also the green sprouts off any sprouting onions to use as onion greens.
Carrots growing under row cover here in our central Virginia gardens are exceptionally sweet in winter and there is nothing quite as delicious and tender as frost nipped collards or kale. But between Nov 21 and Jan 21 when plants grow slowly or not at all so now is the time to garden on paper. There are a number of online and digital tools to help with garden planning. You can try our Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Garden Planner free for 7 days to see how it works for you. Paper shortages and trucking delays are seriously slowing some seed catalog delivery to gardeners but fortunately updated online listings still allow you to place your seed orders early to avoid the disappointments of last year and to add something new and fun to your garden in 2022.