Patsy Bell Hobson: Gardening Forever

50 & Better
Gardening Forever
By Patsy Bell Hobson

In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
                                                                                                       --Albert Camus

Gardens in a Jar

In the United States, the African word "nyami" referring to the starchy, edible root of the Dioscorea genus of plants are actually sweet potatoes. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweet potato." The sweet potato, a member of the morning glory plant family, is native to America. It prefers sunny climates with a long growing season and doesn’t like wet feet in the garden. I can relate to that.

You can also grow sweet potatoes in a glass or jar of water in wintertime. Put the narrow, or pointy, end of the sweet potato in the water and set the glass in a sunny window. The water should cover the bottom third of the root.

A sweet potato purchased from a natural foods store or farmers’ market is more likely to sprout than one from a supermarket--because it’s probably been heat treated or sprayed with sprout inhibitor. It will take a couple of weeks before root growth appears, then sprouts will begin.

Sprouting seeds in a jar is a quick and tasty way to of producing fresh greens in the dead of winter. Good seeds for sprouting are alfalfa, peas, radish, red clover and broccoli. Sprouts are sometimes called a super food because they contain enormous levels of easily digestible proteins, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and enzymes.

Here’s how: soak a few teaspoons of seed in a wide mouth jar covered with mesh and secure with rubber band. Add water, swirl, and drain. Add 1-cup cool water and soak for 4 - 8 hrs. Rinse twice a day, refill jar with cool water, swirl, and drain. Invert jar and prop at angle in sink or bowl. Enjoy in three to six days, when sprouts are 1 to 2" long. Transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate to store.

Winter Reprieve and Pre-spring Flings
Lawn and Garden Shows


The Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show is Kansas City's features everything from water gardens and plant care to power equipment and designing outdoor living spaces. Each year over 30,000 consumers attend the Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show to shop for the latest products and services for their gardens and outdoor lifestyles. See you at the American Royal Center, February 10 - 12, 2006.

The Johnson County Home & Garden Show is the area's fastest growing consumer show of home and garden products. With over 250 businesses displaying and selling upscale products and services for discriminating Johnson County and south Kansas City homeowners, this show is an opportunity to shop and buy products and services from leading contractors and retailers. The show is at the Overland Park Convention Center, February 24 - 26, 2006.

The Greater Kansas City Home Show and the Kansas City Flower, Lawn & Garden Show showcases the latest in home and garden products and services. You know spring is in the air when it’s time for the 58th annual “Big Show.” The Kansas City Home Show and the Flower, Lawn and Garden Show blooms on nearly eight football fields of exhibit space at Bartle Exposition Hall. Thursday through Sunday, March 23-26, 2006

Feed AND WATER the Birds

Interest in birds is second only to gardening as a backyard hobby. People in the United States spend over a half-billion dollars each year on birdseed. Although birds benefit from the easy access to birdseed, people are the primary beneficiaries of this recreational activity.

Cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, all finches, and grosbeaks prefer black-oil sunflower seed. Black-oil sunflower has a higher percentage of meat and is a source of rich nutritional protein. The soft outer shell makes it easy for smaller birds like chickadees and nuthatches to eat. Cardinals will be the first to notice your new bird feeders.

If raccoons, opossums, deer, or rodents are a problem, put out only as much seed as can be eaten by nightfall. Stop offering mixed seed on platform feeders or on the ground  if the feeder is overrun with blackbirds, pigeons, or house sparrows. Feed only black-oil sunflower seed in tube or hopper feeders until the problem species move on. To deter squirrels, place feeders at least 7 to 8 feet away from solid tree limbs, fences or railings

Attract more birds by furnishing water year-round. The bluebird, Missouri's State Bird, may be enticed to feeding stations during the winter if water is available. Water may be harder to find than food during freezing weather and droughts. In subfreezing weather, put out water daily at the same time to allow birds to develop a routine, or purchase an immersion-style water heater.

Lawn and garden shows, feeding the birds and watching sweet potatoes grow will get a gardener through January and February.

Patsy Bell Hobson is a freelance writer, speaker and a Master Gardener in Liberty, MO. Send e-mail hobson.patsybell@gmail.com or visit my Website at http://patsybell.com .




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