Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gardening in December

Last night was our coldest night yet with temps somewhere around 17. I covered the rosemary- determined to keep in going. It made it. Otherwise, everything else is now on its own from here on out. So I say. I got very depressed when I decided to go out and dig some leeks for soup for lunch and guess what- the ground was frozen. Man, what am I going to do all winter if this shit keeps up? I looked at garden blogs, flipped through a seed catalog, took some pics. It got me thinking. What does it really mean to garden in winter and what would that look like? Could I "garden" everyday of the year? Sounds like an interesting challenge. 

Challenge: Can I keep green herbs outside all winter?
I don't know how well you can tell in this picture, but the herbs here- marjoram, mint, parsley and also green onions and violas- leaves have curled overnight and the mint is shiny. Here is a close-up:
Can they recover? 

YES! They can. This photo taken at 31 degrees F. 
What am I doing? Essentially, I potted them up, put them on a shelf against my house (the portion that has white siding) and on a south facing wall. I'm hoping being up against the house, sheltered from winds and against this highly reflective south wall will extend their life and even allow for all-winter-long herbs. I also have some oregano, lettuce and spinach in pots along this wall. 

Challenge: Can I grow veggies in pots over winter?
Here is my attempt at Potato Onions and Leafing Cabbage. So far so good, albeit slow.

Challenge: What other things count as winter gardening? 
Does- I haven't gotten around to digging up all the cannas yet count? Sure! And the roots still look good. I'm guessing the ground would not only have to freeze solid, but stay so for a given amount of time for them to die. The ones I could dig were either in pots or in a heavily leaf-mulched bed, hence not having to deal with frozen earth. 
Tossed into grocery bag for the winter.

Still alive!

I think eating what you grew in summer should also count to some degree as winter gardening, but that's just my opinion. Plan B- when ground is too frozen to dig leeks, eat eggplant from the freezer.

Challenge: What can I grow and eat indoors in the winter?
Answer: Leafing Celery.

I'm still waiting for my parsley, cilantro and nasturtiums to germinate in my window food farm tower. Impatiently, I might add. And lastly, having a living and plant-able Winter Solstice Tree counts as gardening in my book. Last year I picked out a lime green arborvitae (which has a lot of dead foliage now). I decided to get something a little more tough this year- a Wichita Blue Juniper. I like it. I wouldn't normally buck up $50 for a plant, but seeing what I would pay for a chopped-down one that would just be tossed away after the holidays and whereas this one not only gets planted, hopefully lasts for years, adds beauty to my landscaping and shelter for wildlife it seems a cheap alternative. Besides, having to keep it outside means I don't have to deal with boxes of ornaments, the dogs eating it and the cats trying to climb it. The string of lights is a compromise. 

Until next time and more winter garden challenges!

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