I know I am using that dirty word again, but I actually love winter; the time where nature sleeps, when we huddle together as families (birth and chosen) to share warmth and cheer. As a gardener, I am also glad of a small respite of a season so I can renew before the hard work of spring preparation begins. But that doesn’t mean the garden isn’t productive, it is but in a different way.
While the snow and ice reign, the garden can be marvelously productive. A couple of weeks ago, I put on a greenhouse on one of the beds to begin seedlings of winter salad blend, carrots, turnips, radishes and the like. Today I cleaned the garden of its last bounty and prepared it for its winter slumber (at least part of it). I took the tomatoes out (I reserved the last of the cherry tomatoes for salad and some mature, but not ripe tomatoes for a delicious dish of fried green tomatoes later this week. I also pulled the last of the green and of the hot peppers…those will be chopped, frozen or dried for later use.
I then planted the garlic that will flavor my food next summer, fall and winter. I pulled two plump heads from the braid I made earlier in the summer when I harvested the garlic from last fall’s planting, broke them apart and planted them in the fertile soil. I covered them over, watered and then spread straw over the bed to insulate the garlic and to protect the soil I am leaving fallow for the winter. Some of this straw will be tilled into the soil in the spring before I plant spring vegetables and the rest will become part of my compost.
For the other bed, I planted some additional root crops (parmex carrots, parsnips, chard and salad lettuce. I left a space available for the onion seeds I just ordered (they should be here within the week) to plant. I installed yet another greenhouse from Frame it All. The good folks there sent me two greenhouses because of the mix up a couple of weeks ago with their products, it was a great gesture for a long time customer. This will give me about 70 square feet of winter gardening space. These beds should produce food up until the really cold months of January and February where I will fertilize and allow the ground to rest for a couple of months before planting peas and my spring vegetables beginning in March.
Even though for some the gardening season is winding down, some of us are still going strong!