Winter vegetable gardening can be a fruitful endeavor
During gray winter days, the thought of waiting for more desirable planting conditions could entice even the most seasoned gardeners to stay indoors.
But to miss out on the winter planting months is to forego an opportunity to grow thriving cole crops. With the right plan in place, tending to a winter vegetable garden can prove fruitful.
“The wintertime really gives you an opportunity to do some things that are different that you don’t normally do in what we would call the main growing season,” said Chris Mullins, a Virginia Cooperative Extension horticulturist.
“Snow peas or English peas, certain lettuce varieties and leafy greens are going to do better than other times. Certain herbs are going to do better when it’s cold out, and when you think about things like brassicas—cole crops like collards, kale, cabbage and kohlrabi, they’re going to do really well in cold temperatures.”
Other vegetables to consider planting in winter gardens are carrots, parsnips and broccoli, all of which mature quickly and can withstand a hard frost, making February an ideal time to begin planting.
Watch this video: Producers Scott and Susan Hill in Louisa County offer tips on winter vegetable gardening.
Crops adverse to frost, such as tomatoes, watermelons and peppers, should be avoided. Proper plant selection and protection is an important component of a successful garden, Mullins said.
With frost damage posing one of the largest threats to winter plants, growers should be mindful of covering vegetables during potentially freezing temperatures. In cold frames and under row covers, tarps and blankets, crops are protected by warm air circulating underneath. Identifying warmer areas of a yard, ideally in an area with southern exposure, will help combat frost damage as well.
Popcorn’s popularity is popping
Popcorn is a satisfying, low-calorie, whole-grain, good-for-you snack, and Americans eat 15 billion quarts of it each year, according to The Popcorn Board, a nonprofit checkoff organization funded by U.S. popcorn processors.
Of that amount, 70% is eaten at home, and the remainder is munched at entertainment venues.
Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), but differs from other varieties in that it has a thicker hull. That hull allows pressure from the heated water inside to build, heating each kernel’s starch until it becomes gelatinous. When the hull bursts, the starch spills out and cools.
Popcorn’s agricultural history is long, but its commercial history is relatively short, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was first mentioned in farm papers and seed trade catalogs around 1880, but its popularity quickly grew.
Nearly all of the world’s popcorn production is in the U.S., with 25 states growing the crop. Virginia has a handful of popcorn growers.
Nutty 'n' Natural Popcorn
Try this healthy snack with nuts, dried fruit and popcorn.
Preventive care results in fewer illnesses
Preventive care consists of measures taken to prevent illnesses rather than cure them or treat their symptoms. Most health insurance plans include preventive care coverage, which benefits both the consumer and health insurance companies through early detection and reduced health care spending.
Significant research demonstrates that increased use of effective preventive services results in less suffering from illnesses that are detected and treated early. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of 10 Americans die each year from chronic diseases, many of which are preventable.
Medical services such as immunizations, screening tests, medications and any other services that prevent disease, injury and premature death fall under the umbrella of preventive care.
“The purpose of preventive care is to shift the focus of health care from treating sickness to maintaining wellness and good health,” explained Tracy Cornatzer, sales manager for Virginia Farm Bureau’s health insurance division. “By taking advantage of regular preventive care services you can stay healthier and get more effective treatment and pay less for medical expenses.”
Part of preventive care is seeing your doctor for an annual checkup and bloodwork. For women, this also should include a yearly visit with a gynecologist. Well visits also are covered for infants and children.