Our garden doesn’t seem to mind winter
It is winter, but the garden does not rest. It continues to delight us with its willingness to flourish even in the darkest days of the season as the temperatures plummet.
The rain was plentiful in the fall, and the garden rejoiced. Several rows sowed with winter wheat began to grow in earnest after the rain, and soon were almost a foot tall. The wheat will do its work recharging the soil until tilled under next spring.
The paths between the beds, once dry and barren, have sprouted a carpet of miner’s lettuce and California poppies. When the miner’s lettuce leaves are as big as silver dollars, they will make a tasty addition to our salads.
One bed planted in September with tiny starts of kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower and red and white cabbage is now full of stately plants, their large leaves protecting the lettuce which still miraculously grows beneath them. The lettuce amazed me by re-sprouting after it was picked.
No cauliflower yet, but each broccoli has given us a large crown, and continues to produce little broccoli flowerets. Also hidden under the large leaves of broccoli and cauliflower are several plump kohlrabi tempting us to pick them before another day goes by.
And the kale! The two varieties of kale are splendid, and are tireless in their abundance. When there are no more winter vegetables to be picked, the kale will continue to give of itself.
Spinach and arugula fill another bed. Arugula, the wonder plant, is my favorite. It will sprout any month of the year, every single tiny seed. I can tend it faithfully, or neglect it completely, it matters not. In only a few weeks each tiny sprout has become an opulent plant, continuously providing luscious and tangy greens for every salad.
The spinach is a slow grower, which allows the weeds to give it a run for its money. One task that cannot be neglected in the winter is weeding the spinach. We cleverly created a path down the middle of the four rows so that we can walk through the bed and have a go at the weeds. Our efforts will be rewarded by spinach leaves as big as pie pans by May.
The last of the carrots planted in April share a bed with onion and garlic sprouts, rising tall like rows of little soldiers standing at attention.
The loveliest thing in the garden in the winter is the greenhouse, filled to overflowing with the geraniums that adorned our deck in the summer. Snug as a bug, out of the wind and cold, they are in full bloom, pressing their faces against the glass.
It is rainy and cold outside now, but the resilient plant life in the garden doesn’t seem to mind. Like our trusty postmen and women, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Blessed are you, winter garden. You give us much, and expect little in return. How fortunate are we, the recipients of your bounty.
Ginger Rilling lives in Talent.