When I think of garden topics beginning with O, there is one word that keeps pushing to the front, and that is outdoors.
As the weather becomes less conducive to spending time outside, I somehow feel deprived. I love my home and all the reading, writing, knitting and sewing I spend my days doing, but the pull of the outdoors is there all the time. I am not comfortable driving in snow and ice, and do not drive out of town in the dark. Although my ankle is so much better, I cannot walk long distances yet, and I am frustrated with these limits.
As the last perennials die back, and the final leaves flutter down from the lilacs, the cherry tree and the climbing roses, I want to be outside, digging, weeding, raking and doing whatever needs to be done. I am tempted to put a chair on the porch, wrap up in winter clothing and sit out for a spell.
I suppose all gardeners feel the pull of the outdoors, and we just need to be patient in the knowledge that spring will come.
Onions are one of my favorite kitchen ingredients. I put them into just about everything but desserts, but if I found a good recipe ... well, maybe not.
There are pictures in Egyptian tombs of people eating onions, so they certainly are time-tested. They are easy to grow, asking just some light soil with plenty of organic matter; so add plenty of compost to the onion bed, and some 10-10-10 fertilizer when the green spears are a few inches tall. After pulling the harvest, store onions in a cool space with plenty of air circulation and they will keep all winter.
Oregano is an easy herb to grow, and is called for in many Italian recipes - especially tomato-based sauces. The small, soft pale green leaves and pink or white flower clusters are attractive in the flower bed as well as the herb garden. Oregano is one of the ingredients of commercial chili powder, and figures prominently in that rather anonymous combination found in spice collections and known as Italian seasoning.
If you grow Star-of-Bethlehem, you might like to know its botanical name is Ornithologum Chincherinchee. Or maybe you wouldn't.
But whatever name it goes by, this is a pretty plant with star-shaped yellowish white flowers in spring and early summer. The small bulbs need to be planted in early autumn, and the flower heads grow in umbrella-like forms.
And the final O is the major topic of organic gardening.
At first, this term was used loosely to apply to just about any garden that was chemical-free, but now there are rigid requirements for any concern wishing to be labeled organic. The British botanist Sir Albert Howard was a pioneer in the movement early in the 20th century, as he documented practices he had observed in India, and proclaimed them superior to "modern" techniques.
After World War, 11 chemicals were widely used for crop fertilization and pest reduction, including such lethal compounds as DDT, and J.I. Rodale started his magazine Organic Gardening to point out the harmful effects he perceived. Different groups began pushing for regulation, and as the green movement grows, there has been a great increase in commercial organic farming and gardening around the world.