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New year brings new list of chores

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Well, next up is New Year’s. As in the ancient holiday, we should celebrate the old year’s successes, and plan our new hopes for the new year. Write them down and place the list someplace you’ll see every day. Work toward those goals.
The list doesn’t have to be big or logical. It’s your list. Just motivate yourself to get it done. Now, with that in mind, doing something with the Christmas tree may be on your list. If you decorated with a real tree, you get to choose what to do with it. later.
If you have a friend with a deep fishing pond, ask them if you can dump it in the pond for fish habitat. You can also find a chipper and make your own mulch. If you have blackberries you will be amazed at the difference this mulch makes in harvest yields. Use the core trunk as a trellis. They naturally repel bugs.
Maybe you were going to do that 12 Days After Christmas thing I wrote about last week. I did have a couple of folks ask about that. Let me explain it to you as a monthly weather forecast for 2013.
Just write down the weather (temperature, precipitation, wind) on each of 12 days, beginning with today, Dec. 26. Today’s weather will then predict the type of weather we are going to have in the overall month of January 2013. Write down the weather for Dec. 27 and that will be February, and so on until you reach Jan. 6 for December 2013. That’s a total of 12 days to predict 12 month’s of weather. Hey, we all thought counting the number of fogs to predict snow storms was weird. Anything is possible.
Maybe another item from your list is to plan out your garden ahead of time. You can save yourself so much time and money, if you plan you garden out on paper. Once you do it you’ll find it easier every year and still helpful. We sometimes get too stuck in our ways. Change is good, especially if you can control it.
This year I am changing the way I plant my pole beans. Last year I had them planted in two long rows, up the orange fencing and higher up trellis lines that I strung. They jumped to the other line and I had to creep in a duck walk, under a tunnel of beans, because they got too heavy. A bean tunnel is cool, though. I have done one in the past, based on one I had seen at Rodale Farms.
The only trouble with doing one here was snakes. I of coursed laid newspaper and straw down as mulch, all around the growing area. So, when the pole beans crawled up and eventually covered the wire fencing, they created a high tunnel bridge. One that you can walk under and pick in the shade.
Turns out that fluffy high straw on top of slick smooth newspaper makes for ideal snake bedding. Thankfully, my dogs are way smarter than me and notified me each time, before my sandaled foot stepped on one. I had that same problem with my cucumber patch the first year I was here. I always grow them up a trellis now.
Maybe you had something on your list like be nicer to the planet in some way. Of all the things you could do, including eating totally locally grown food, you can make a bigger difference by eating cow products two times less, each week. Sounds freaky I know, but statistically correct.
Now, the new seed and gardening catalogs will be arriving in the mail any day now. Online catalogs will be available even faster. Many new heirlooms have been added to Seeds of Change and other seed companies. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of Bane’s Mountain Cornfield Beans. Years ago, my friend Marshal told me all about these beans. Oh, I wanted some in the worst way. One day he found a jar in a corner of a field that must have sat in that field for decades. I tried like crazy to get one of those to germinate. No luck.
Now, someone has the bean and I going to get it too. This is a pole bean. Most pole beans grow string beans up a trellis or something. After you pick the beans you have to break and string them. The string is like a zipper on the bean. Two zippers per bean, actually. This Bane’s Bean is a snap bean. Snap beans don’t have a zipper. You just break them in half. Some folks think the taste is worth the extra stringing work.  This bean has the flavor of a string bean, slightly nutty. I’m so excited.
Now, go make that list of yours. We have been blessed with incredibly warm weather so far. But now, it’s winter. We need to be prepared for anything Mother Nature decides to send our way this wonderful new year. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.