The Winter Garden
This is the time of year that many people start finalizing their seed orders. Some folks have even started indoor sowings of spring crops, like cauliflower, broccoli, and leafy greens, for later transplanting in the garden. Several of my friends have even started tomatoes (which I don’t do until after March 1st). Everyone is itching to get back into the garden.
Me? I’m already there.
Since November 1st, I’ve harvested almost 200 pounds of vegetables from the garden. The bulk of the harvest has been cold-tolerant root crops, such as carrots, rutabaga, turnips, and beets. Kohlrabi has been a dependable producer, both within and beyond the protection of the low tunnels. And until we entered a serious winter cold snap in mid-January, I was even harvesting side shoots of broccoli and rapini. The freshness and flavor of these vegetables is outstanding — they are not just cold-tolerant, but cold-enhanced. And did I mention the salads? Oh my… the salads! My late-sowings of kale and Asian greens have slowly grown since November into sweet, tender, absolutely amazing baby greens.
We’ve seen temperatures in the low teens on many nights, and a stretch of daytime temperatures that never made it above freezing. You wouldn’t think that a little Agribon fabric and 6-mil clear plastic would be much of an insulator, but it never dropped below 22 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the low tunnels. Tolerance of cold temperatures is a matter of degrees for many of these plants, so that extra bit of protection meant the difference between harvests and crop losses for us.
The garden is entering into relatively leaner times for some crops, however. I have plenty of carrots, endive, and kohlrabi, but I’m wishing that I had planted more beets and swiss chard. We’ll probably be out of rutabaga and turnips in the next few weeks, but I have plenty of winter squash and sweet potatoes that are still keeping well in storage to fill that void.
Even with all of these wonderful foods, I’m still antsy for spring like everyone else. I’m anxious to see how my overwintered fava beans will perform, and to taste the beautifully-colored heirloom lettuces that are waiting to take off with warmer temperatures. And I simply can’t wait for peas… they’re probably my favorite vegetable from the spring garden.
Life has intervened on blog-writing for the past month — as much as I enjoy it, it pales in comparison to my family, which will always come first. I hope to catch up on posts soon, but until then, here are some more photos to help you catch up on what has been happening in the garden.