Monday, November 30, 2009

Out of the Garden - For Now

I dashed out about noon during a lull in the gale-force winds to harvest the last of the bok-choi, which turned out to be enough for several meals. I also pulled and harvested two of the four stalks of Brussels sprouts. I quit at two stalks because it had started to pour a very cold rain. The sprouts range in size from from big peas to small marbles. I threw a few in the quick ramen soup I made for lunch and they are absolutely scrumptious.

At the moment I'm planning a chicken soup for dinner. I'll toss in a generous amount of sliced bok choi and do the Brussels sprouts as a side dish. I've got bread for Tony on the go, and hope to have time and motivation to make a loaf for myself after the bread maker cools off enough to bake a second loaf. His is more important, because buying a loaf of gluten-free bread for him costs $8.99, while I can get a loaf of organic whole grain flax bread for $1.98.

While I was lying in bed last night, waiting for the Sleep Fairy to thump me with her hammer, I had the very cheerful thought that tomorrow is the 1st of Dec, which means.... I can begin my spring garden in 60 days!

While this doesn't mean I can put seeds in the ground, I can start seeds, in my little greenhouse, or alternately, this spring I am going to try a technique called winter-sowing. In winter-sowing you plant your seeds in a container, like a recycled clear plastic salad "box". After removing any labels from the top or sides you partially fill the container with soil appropriate for starting seeds. You sow your seeds, water them, put a few holes in the lid, pop it on and place outside in the weather so the seeds can germinate on their own time table.

This works with any plant that self-seeds from year to year which is usually started early and transplanted. I'll be trying it with onions, leeks, beets, chard, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, bok choi and rapini and spinach. Not one to put all my eggs in a single basket, I will also plant some of these in flats in the greenhouse, just in case it doesn't work as well as it should.

Of course, every year there are things you will do differently. I am going to buy a turning fork, and work a bunch of compost and manure into my raised beds and containers, just as soon as I can get into the garden in the spring.

All of my sun-hungry plants will still have to go in back, in the 4x4 and the containers on the garden tiers, as seen here early last spring. But since the mock cherry came down in front there's a lot more sun there. I think there's enough for herbs and leafy greens, which I will mix with a few flowers. I'll move my smaller 10" and 12" containers to the front and hopefully avoid the midnight "shopping" which occurred last spring, when someone helped themselves to newly transplanted pots of tomatoes and peppers. This year I think I'll connect all my larger pots together with a couple of 1 x 2s screwed across the rims of each row of pots.

Looking through my plastic shoebox full of seeds I see that I should have to buy only two or three seed packets. I have no chard, beets or leeks. I seem to have everything else, assuming they are still viable.

Next spring I am going to try and restrain myself from buying every plant in the nursery, hardware, grocery store and WalMart with a cunning plan. I will make a list and carry a shovel. Every time I am tempted to buy bedding out plants which are not on the list I will simply hit myself in the head with the shovel.

Of course I want flowers and colour, but in small and disciplined doses thanks. One of everything doesn't even look nice. Much better to concentrate on a few solid and reliable bloomers in a limited palette of colours, than something that ultimately looks like an explosion in a paint store. Coordinating flower displays has never been one of my strengths.

So, as I harvest what is probably the last produce to come out of 2009's garden, 2010's garden is already jumping out of my imagination.

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