Monday, November 30, 2009

Out of the Garden - For Now

I dashed out about noon during a lull in the gale-force winds to harvest the last of the bok-choi, which turned out to be enough for several meals. I also pulled and harvested two of the four stalks of Brussels sprouts. I quit at two stalks because it had started to pour a very cold rain. The sprouts range in size from from big peas to small marbles. I threw a few in the quick ramen soup I made for lunch and they are absolutely scrumptious.

At the moment I'm planning a chicken soup for dinner. I'll toss in a generous amount of sliced bok choi and do the Brussels sprouts as a side dish. I've got bread for Tony on the go, and hope to have time and motivation to make a loaf for myself after the bread maker cools off enough to bake a second loaf. His is more important, because buying a loaf of gluten-free bread for him costs $8.99, while I can get a loaf of organic whole grain flax bread for $1.98.

While I was lying in bed last night, waiting for the Sleep Fairy to thump me with her hammer, I had the very cheerful thought that tomorrow is the 1st of Dec, which means.... I can begin my spring garden in 60 days!

While this doesn't mean I can put seeds in the ground, I can start seeds, in my little greenhouse, or alternately, this spring I am going to try a technique called winter-sowing. In winter-sowing you plant your seeds in a container, like a recycled clear plastic salad "box". After removing any labels from the top or sides you partially fill the container with soil appropriate for starting seeds. You sow your seeds, water them, put a few holes in the lid, pop it on and place outside in the weather so the seeds can germinate on their own time table.

This works with any plant that self-seeds from year to year which is usually started early and transplanted. I'll be trying it with onions, leeks, beets, chard, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, bok choi and rapini and spinach. Not one to put all my eggs in a single basket, I will also plant some of these in flats in the greenhouse, just in case it doesn't work as well as it should.

Of course, every year there are things you will do differently. I am going to buy a turning fork, and work a bunch of compost and manure into my raised beds and containers, just as soon as I can get into the garden in the spring.

All of my sun-hungry plants will still have to go in back, in the 4x4 and the containers on the garden tiers, as seen here early last spring. But since the mock cherry came down in front there's a lot more sun there. I think there's enough for herbs and leafy greens, which I will mix with a few flowers. I'll move my smaller 10" and 12" containers to the front and hopefully avoid the midnight "shopping" which occurred last spring, when someone helped themselves to newly transplanted pots of tomatoes and peppers. This year I think I'll connect all my larger pots together with a couple of 1 x 2s screwed across the rims of each row of pots.

Looking through my plastic shoebox full of seeds I see that I should have to buy only two or three seed packets. I have no chard, beets or leeks. I seem to have everything else, assuming they are still viable.

Next spring I am going to try and restrain myself from buying every plant in the nursery, hardware, grocery store and WalMart with a cunning plan. I will make a list and carry a shovel. Every time I am tempted to buy bedding out plants which are not on the list I will simply hit myself in the head with the shovel.

Of course I want flowers and colour, but in small and disciplined doses thanks. One of everything doesn't even look nice. Much better to concentrate on a few solid and reliable bloomers in a limited palette of colours, than something that ultimately looks like an explosion in a paint store. Coordinating flower displays has never been one of my strengths.

So, as I harvest what is probably the last produce to come out of 2009's garden, 2010's garden is already jumping out of my imagination.


newwaytowrite said...

There will barely be anytime to get the soil from neath your fingernails.

Thomas said...

That's a great way to think about it. I started to feel sad the other day knowing that our mild fall weather is finally coming to an end and wintery weather is fast approaching. Since I plan on starting some seeds in February, I guess I only have to wait 60 days as well!

patchkat ~Susan in TX said...

I keep meaning to ask the photo currently at the top of the blog your lake? It's lovely!

love ya,
neice Susan

Deb said...

Hi Susan,

Yes, this is the left third of our beach, and the "clay banks" which are directly to the west. We are in sort of a cove. The beach is about 800-1000 ft long. The end in the picture is left natural, the rest has a roped-off swimming area, buoys for boats to anchor, the piers left from the boat launch that a storm ate a few years back, some fire-pits, tables, trees, flowers etc.

These days the lake is indigo coloured, with lots of rolling white caps. The wind coming off the water is cold now. I walked down to the beach today and was glad I had my winter hat and windbreaker. There's enough wave structure for surfers on some beaches (not ours). The lake is 100 miles long, must be five miles wide here, so it's pretty good sized.

I ought to go through and find some pictures and post them.

Love ya!