I love my winter garden right now. It is a place of brilliant color, where all the cares of the world fall away in the midst of the rows of singing green.
These plants know me, they have known me since the whole of their being rattled around in my palm as I sowed seeds in the waiting earth. They know when I walk among the rows, pulling sucking weeds away from their roots, and when my shadow is cast across their light-sensitive bodies. They know I tend to them, caring for them with love and attention for their needs, until the terrible harvest.
Food is medicine, and there’s nothing so nourishing I think as fresh, fresh food just brought from the garden. Roots, leaves and flowers are the harvest in the winter, so different from the fruity harvests of the summer season. And my heart is nourished by the gentle beauty of these plants of mine.
I don’t have any flowers growing right now, except the weedy henbit and the scrawny bolting radishes, but the greens of the winter garden are as much as a delight for the eyes as the marigolds of summer.
The ryegrass cover crop where we had the pigs last has sprouted, like a vibrant soft carpet, so green in certain lights it hurts my eyes.
This year the vegetables seemed to arrange themselves in the most beautiful rainbow, starting with red and yellow beets, then the lush tops of turnips in the middle, the blue and sea green curls of cabbage and cauliflower leaves, and finally, almost like frilly flowers, the purple kale. It wasn’t planned at all of course. I’ve found that garden plans are fun to draw, but get ignored when the busy work of planting and the reality of building garden beds sets in.
I wish you could see it in real life, but I’ll show you some of the best parts of the garden right now.
The lettuce this year has been prolific. We suffered last year, with one very picked- down row. This year there are rows and rows of lettuce of many kinds. I’m growing out a lettuce trials of 12 varieties for Forage Farm, and some varieties i had picked out as well. I’m so impressed with the variations in this vegetable. So many different colors and qualities between varieties! I’m waiting for a few slow growing varieties to be ready for harvest before i post a comparison of them.
The Savoy cabbage was once again the champion of the three varieties i grew. I’m not always lucky with cabbage. It seems to like full sun and lots of fertility, and i haven’t always given it enough.
I am very pleased to have broccoli this year. Last year it was not successful, and i thought certainly it would perish in all the hard freezes, but it turned out alive and producing.
The fall garden has mostly been harvested out, but there are still the collard greens and some Napa type Chinese cabbage I’m waiting for.
Many of the fast- growing Asian mustard greens like bekana and the pak choy have been harvested or are bolting. As soon as they bolt i pull them and toss them over the fence to the turkeys and geese. There’s always an amusing brawl over it. The turkeys are just bold enough to hold their own against the aggressively honking Ralph and Dolores.
The barley is sprouting at last, and I’m not sure where it will lead to. I bought four different hulless barley varieties. I made sure to pick ones that are easy to thresh by hand. Ethiopian barley, Faust barley, Schrene barley, and Tibetian barley. I’m growing them out, and then will select from whatever thrives best, in hopes of selecting a barley that will grow well in my garden.
This is my most ambitious garden project right now – seed grow-outs for the local seed bank. I picked easy ones, arugula and dill, which are practically weeds anyway, so I’m hoping it will be difficult to mess anything up.
Wishing you green blessings from the garden today!