Autumn and winter did a rather jumbled waltz this year (two steps forward, three back, two forward, one back, etc.) and honestly for this gardener my head spun, such were the extent of the wild swings. Now that we’ve hit a cold snap that appears to have stuck, I admit to wishing the unthinkable: bring on the snow. Now that the ground has frozen what’s the use of pretending it isn’t? Winter! Please come!
Now is the time, too, that the greenhouse beds are covered with their blanket of Reemay (agricultural cloth). The stuff shrunk in the wash this year, alas; I need to purchase more and either sew another three feet to its ends or drape smaller pieces over the 6’x3′ beds. Having the beds completely covered, incidentally, is not do-or-die; rather, a fully tented structure should (in principle) retain warmth longer, but it still won’t prevent the nightly freeze to its contents.
Poking out of a now too-short length of cloth, Pac choy, flowering. One little nip of frost followed by some warm weather causes it to bolt. Fortunately, it still tastes just wonderful…especially in kimchi.
It’s a good thing we don’t eat salad in the early a.m. It would be nearly impossible to harvest it then, while frozen. The heat of the day brings the lettuces “back to life,” and this in itself is a daily moment of wonder. By supper they’re perky and gorgeous.
But it’s not all salad in the greenhouse beds. Kales and cabbages hog a lot of space too. Endive and escarole and radicchio (chickories one and all) span the is-it-salad or is-it-dinner bridge (and I love gratinee’d chickory). Carrots, parsnips, beets and turnips are grown both indoors and out but somehow are a lot easier to harvest in the greenhouses. And leeks (perennial and annual), bunching onions, bunching scallions and perennialized garlic (a chive substitute: unlike chives, the close-planted bulbs’ greens don’t winter-kill) make dinners and salads nice and savory. Parsley, celery, chervil, cilantro, winter savory, thyme, sage and rosemary add some zest. And sorrel. Sorrel deserves a post of its own.
This post is to simply demonstrate that, for me, gardening (and in particular harvesting) is a year-round endeavor, and I love it.