With the coldest month of the year past, the question now is will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow which is supposed to signal 6 more weeks of winter although no one has ever explained the fact that whether or not Phil sees his shadow, six weeks of winter or more is yet to come.

Tomorrow is the first of our Winter Seminar series of educational garden topics with the first on the subject of soil. While soil is a complex system of minerals, organic matter and microbes, it still is not understood by the general public. This seminar will address the chemical, microbial and structural properties of soil and what in effect are desirable soil traits for most plants. Frequently, newly planted lawns, landscapes, flower and vegetable gardens suffer from lack of soil preparation. Proper preparation of soil before is analogous to an adequate foundation for a house or even a skyscraper. Plants that thrive are less at risk for insect infestation and diseases thus making the case for a proper soil environment. The nursery will be open from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. for this seminar and all subsequent seminars.

A sunny day last Sunday resulted in the production of 10 kilowatts of power per hour from the new installation of solar panels at the Owl Barn. The panels’ maximum production of at least twice this KW will begin in mid-spring through September when days are longer and the sun is intense. This greater summer production is right on time to generate power needed for air conditioners, compressor motors from coolers, from the waterfall flowing down hill from the Owl Barn and normal operation of lights and computers. Another indication of the more intense sun than that of December also came about last Sunday as the automatic greenhouse vents opened in mid day even though the temperature outside was not quite 50º F.

Spring is not far away.