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Turning over a new leaf at the start of a new year

January 9, 2012
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


Welcome to a New Year. With a heavy dose of reality, I have been hearing people say, their New Year's resolution is "not to make any." Good intentions are always with us, and who wants to set themselves up for failure. Maybe it's my age and I've lived too long to be a cockeyed optimist. I did, however, clip the Dear Abby column she has adapted from Al-Anon's original credo. Six thoughts entitled, "Just for Today." Turning over a new leaf one day at a time saves me from failure. Condensed, they are "I won't dwell on failures, will accept what is, will improve my mind each day, will make an effort to be agreeable, (I have framed the saying 'be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.')" Also it lists, "do something positive for my health." I watch Dr. Oz. What I really liked was the phrase, "I will refrain from improving anybody but myself."

Fortunately, right now, I have little to redo in my landscaping. My wonderful son-in-law cleaned my flower beds and brought in two loads of mulch with his truck, and distributed it. Mulch needs to be at least 3 inches deep. Pull mulch 1 to 2 inches away from tree trunks or bush stems to prevent bark and trunk decay. You need a 2-foot circle of mulch in diameter for every inch of tree diameter. A Florida-friendly yard includes working pre-existing natural conditions, conserving water and energy and using native and suitable non-native plants in your landscape, that require minimal water and fertilizer.

Managing yard pesticides only when necessary and with the least toxic products also helps give us proper maintenance.

What a way to start our New Year, with a very cold drop in temperatures this week. Just a preview of things to come. We are heading into our two coldest months of the year. Anytime a frost is predicted, water well and deep the day before. Most plants die from the drying winds that bring the frost. A plant's best protection is to be a healthy, well-feed and well-watered. This month and February are generally our coldest months, with possible freezes. Cover plants with card board boxes, light blankets and sheets. Weigh these down with heavy rocks. Try secondhand stores for cheap sheets and light blankets.

DON'T cover plants with clear plastic. It conducts the freeze to the spots on the plant that it touches and kills that spot, plus a die-back. In daylight, it cooks and burns the plants.

Pull mulch away from the base of the plants covered, to let the soil's heat get up to the plants.

When there is no rain for a week, water plant areas for 20 minutes, and twice a week early in the morning to avoid fungal problems. Water is not utilized well in cool or cold weather - rot sets in. For thrips, scale, mealy bugs and spider mites, hose up under the leaves with soapy water and oil added to the water. The temperatures are now low enough not to cook the plants from the oil.

Pruning frost killed limbs is not recommended at this time. It prevents susceptible tender new growth and protects the lower parts from future freezing. Wait until March. A Florida-friendly yard isn't merely a good looking landscape; it becomes an asset to the environment.

Today is a special day to me. January 7 is the birthday of my middle daughter. But, it is also Roc Day, an old-time traditional day for women. It is sometimes called "St. Distaff Day" because a roc is also called a distaff, a key tool used in spinning. I always wanted to spin and weave. I had a neighbor who did, and my grandmother did, but I never did.

Today is the day after Epiphany, a holiday of transition from Christmas revelries to the start of everyday work. In old England, women did not spin during the 12 days of Christmas. Roc Day was their get back to work day. In olden days, fleece brought home in the summertime was spun into clothing by the female in the family during the winter. They believed no woman was fit to be a wife until she had spun herself a set of body, table and bed linens. This is why a maiden was called a spinner or spinster, and the married woman was called the wife (one who had been a spinner, and still does). Wife comes from the Anglo Saxon word "wif," from the verb "wyfan" or "wefan," which means "to weave."

Today, Roc Day is celebrated by spinners and weavers as well as other fiber enthusiasts all over the world. It is a gathering of friends with common interests in fibers, a celebration of the new year, a special artful way to pay homage to the past.

Locally, we have the Weavers of Char-Lee celebrating Roc Day at our Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace. They will exhibit wall art, hand-woven clothing, accessories, weaving and spinning implements with members offering hands-on demonstrations from 1 to 5 p.m. There will be refreshments from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

If you feel up to it, the weather is good for outside work and redoing your landscape can be achieved. Turn over that new leaf, it's a new day, a new dawn, a new year. Each morning, a conscious acknowledgement will let you know that you will be doing the best you can.

Be happy, thank a plant for your ozone.

Joyce Comingore is a master gardener; a board member of the Lee County/Fort Myers Garden Council and American Hibiscus Society; Arbor Day chairman; Ninth District Tree chairman; and a member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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