Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden

Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden after last week's dusting of snow.

by Lindsey Fleetwood
horticulturist, Doris Duke Center Gardens

Winter at Sarah P. Duke Gardens is an exciting time of year. Last year most of our fall sown crops were able to withstand our lowest temperatures, which dipped to 19 degrees. This year has been more challenging, with our lowest temperatures reaching single digits. On the bright side, these frigid temperatures will help to kill some of the overwintering harmful pests and diseases, such as mildew spores and squash bugs!

To help fend off the cold, we have set up several hoop houses with frost fabric 
over some of our broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.

Winter is a time for planning and reevaluating, ordering seeds, planting seeds, anticipating the taste of that first ripening tomato. Here in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden we are doing all of those things. On these very cold mornings, we have been settling in with our mounds of seed catalogs, eyes feasting on colorful images of golden green beans, orange tomatoes, red okra and so many more neat varieties of edibles. This is one of my favorite parts. I love to see that big orange envelope of seeds arrive in the mail. They're here!

Late January is a good time to start seeds that require a longer growing season, such as peppers. This is also a good time to sow seeds that you wish to have larger transplants, like eggplant.  We have been sowing other seeds to plant back in the spring garden once these frigid temperatures let up, such as warm season onions, arugula, mustard and kale.

Two of our volunteers, Patty and Cynthia, 
work on sowing seeds in peat pots.

Keep checking back for more updates from the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden!

Sarah P. Duke Gardens creates and nurtures an environment in the heart of Duke University for learning, inspiration and enjoyment through excellence in horticulture. The Gardens receives roughly half of its operating budget from Duke University. The rest comes from people like you, who value all that this public botanic garden has to offer.

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