This is the first year I have a winter garden and it’s been quite interesting to watch it over the months. What’s in it? Frost-hardy plants that thrive in cool weather and pause their growing when it drops below 45F. I planted them from seed in September through October and they’re still green and growing in February, just slowly. Temperatures down to 30˚F, frost and snow wilted the beans and peas, but they popped back up in the sun the next day. We even got a crazy 6 inches of Seattle snow in January and everything survived. I was pleasantly surprised.
Fava Beans: I planted them to be both food and “green manure” that adds nitrogen to the soil, they’ve been flowering with gorgeous white and dark purple flowers since December and will produce enormous long pods in March (I hope!).
Shelling and Sugar Snap Peas: these are all tangled up in a big mass of leaves, but seem to be healthy and flowering. No pods yet. See those bolted Pac Choi with yellow flowers? I’m leaving them there to attract bees and other pollinators and hopefully get some pea pods soon.
Brussel sprouts: They’re part of my sad, stunted summer garden and I could have harvested them months ago, but keeping them in the ground keeps them fresh indefinitely and ready for any evening’s meal. The one in the photo, however, has bided its time all winter and now it’s taken off, up into the sky. It’s gained about a foot of height and each leaf has a tiny sprout ball at its base. What will it do? Flower? We’ll see…
Kale: my delicious, hardy, workhorse of the garden. These guys are the most forgiving plants for beginning gardeners. I have 8 of the Red Russian variety that I continually harvest leaves from as I feel like it. They were mysteriously turning brown and dropping leaves in October, but some googling revealed it was nitrogen deficiency, so I gave them a dose of smelly manure tea (more on that experience another day) and then BAM they exploded into green leafiness.
Garlic: In September I planted a bunch of fat cloves from the grocery store and farmer’s market and these lovelies have been sprouting nonstop ever since. I think I really like growing garlic, it’s so easy. In the photo you can spy some tulips (?) popping up in between the garlic. These are leftover from the previous renter, who apparently couldn’t think of anything better to plant in the beds than flowers. I sniff in his/her general direction.
Pac Choi: the chickens got in and ate a bunch of the leaves, but what remained has been growing steadily ever since. A few have bolted into cheerful stalks of yellow flowers, but those are edible too. And they smell amazing! I’m leaving them in to lure pollinators to my peas.
Arugula, Mustard, Lettuce & Mache: They grew so very slooooowly during the colder months, but now they’re thriving.
Fun story; in September I dutifully scattered Mache (sometimes called Vit or Corn Salad) seeds where I wanted them to grow, just like my gardening books suggest, and waited. Nothing. I shrugged and chalked up as another garden misadventure. Just today I was poking around and noticed these little seedlings, too even and nice-looking to be weeds. I stared at them until I realized – they must be the Mache! They had to have sprouted just a week ago. So cute! I first tasted Mache at the farmer’s market last week and it lived up to its reputation.. sweet, delicate and delicious in salad.
Miscellaneous: Aaand floating around in my beds are also some scraggly tiny onions, leeks, and some stunted swiss chard. Which is too bad, because I love Swiss Chard but it’s just not taking off.
How’s your garden? Any Swiss Chard tips for me? ;)
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