Friday, December 12, 2014

Time in the Winter Garden

I spent a couple of hours in the yard this morning. That ended when the lawn mower choked on a vine. Deal with that later. It was cool enough that I needed to bundle up to do some work, but warm enough that the layers came off as I worked. Other than the start of winter- temps in the 20s and an early, but brief snow, the rest has been what I would call mild. Still plenty of green, maybe not enough sun. Perks of winter gardening include:

  • getting some fresh air
  • vitamin D
  • exercise that isn't routine
  • you can see some weeds that would normally be camouflaged like this one:
I find about a half-dozen of these every winter-spring. It's the best time to find them as they are evergreen. This is Euonymous or Winter Creeper and it sucks. This is the nicest way I can say it. Birds eat the seeds, poop from perched in my hedge and next I find these about the beds. If left alone it will quickly smother the ground and climb the trees and kill everything in its path. This is also the time to find young honeysuckle shrubs, which are also still green and suck too. Both are relatively easy to pull when young and the ground isn't frozen. 

I also found several Wild Cherry saplings. Still having their leaves or
finding upright sticks are easy to see in the winter bed. Pull or snip at the base. 

 Winter is also a great time to find nests. I'm not
sure what this belongs to, but I'm watching. It's on
the Wafer Ash.

And for finding fungi

And for digging
The ground is soft from the rain a couple of weeks ago. 
I've been wanting to build a short wall here to keep
the bed from eroding into the ditch.  

And I'm still raking. Raked and mowed this area 
this morning. Still working on this bed. I want to raise it more,
add a few more daffodils and more diversity of
native plants. 

In my bed cleaning I accidentally pulled some of these 
Jerusalem Artichokes. No biggie. Looks like we'll be having
artichoke pancakes. 

Winter Food
 celery and fennel
from the Dome garden
 Rainbow Chard (slug munched)
from the Dome garden

 Parsnips and a fat carrot
(both from last spring plantings) 

All put into some minestrone. 
It was colorful AND tasty.
All but three ingredients were from my garden (noodles, garbonzo beans and capers). Plus salt. Does that count? From the garden: garlic, onion, the aforementioned and a quart of tomatoes with herbs. 

Winter Foods
Even though they aren't as good as fresh from the garden, stored green tomatoes are really special to still be eating in December. It's sad that they are still better than store bought. 

Geodesic Dome Garden update
The concept is working better than planned. It hasn't been below freezing a single night in the Dome so far. Because of this the soil has not frozen and because of that I have munchers I didn't anticipate. Slugs and a shocker- caterpillars! I really thought the caterpillars would die. I had no idea they had the capacity to withstand winter. They seem to just slow down a bit. Does this result in larger spring butterflies? Do I sacrifice my kale all winter to find out? I just might. My curiosity just might win over my desire to eat kale. I almost fed one to the chickens the other day. Nope- just going to wait it out. 

Not quite a Garden project, but kinda
I've always wanted a pantry. Maybe because I'm a food hoarder or maybe because I like closets of food more than closets of clothes. So, this is one of my winter break projects. I'm almost done with the inner shelves. I have a salvaged door. And then I need to figure out the covering. Maybe pallet wood. Maybe a mix of salvaged materials. We'll see. But it's tied to the garden because it's where the garden is preserved in jars. 
 Pantry in progress.

Winter Break
I'm hoping to divide my winter break between inside and outside projects. I have lots of soil and bed prepping to do, some snipping and sawing and imagining plans for next year's gardens and maybe a new chicken coop for spring chicks. My original 6, now 5, are going on 6yrs and only occasionally laying. I think I need to have a 3-year rotation plan, where every 3 years I get 3 chicks to keep production going. I also considered quail, but not sure I like the idea of keeping them caged and 5 quail eggs = 1 chicken egg. But, they do have a lovely call. Ah well, it gives me something to dream about. 

On the bad days we stare outside and dream.

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