Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Starting the winter garden

I haven't been out to the garden in awhile. After the last freeze a few weeks ago, I know I lost a bunch of plants. So I figured I'd go out today, clean up all of the dead stuff and then plant some winter stuff.

A small harvest
The first thing I found was some fruit lying on the ground, or attached to frost-killed plants. I pulled one teeny tiny pumpkin off the vine. I'm thinking I am going to bake him and make some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I'm not sure how much pumpkin he'll make through. There were also three bell peppers lying on the ground below a very dead pepper plant. There was one ripe jalepeno and a few tomatoes on the ground - some green and few red.

A few plants survived
The second thing I found was that the not everything was dead.  One of the tomatoes had a live branch with leaves and even a flower on it. Now, I am not optimistic enough to think anything will happen with this brave little branch. But...

the plant also had a decent number of green tomatoes still hanging on the dead branches. I decided to let most of the hanging green tomatoes stay on the vine, in the hopes they might ripen. Okay, so I am still pretty optimistic ;o)

There is also one eggplant hanging on the living eggplant bush.  The eggplant is discolored, but since the plant is still alive, I thought I'd keep it in the ground... for now.

I harvested one jalapeno that was clinging to a very much alive jalapeno plant, that had two or three growing jalapenos. 

Then, I decided to pull up the carrot plants that have been growing since last winter. When I pulled up the first weed, I found the small plant had turned into big carrot over the summer. I brought one inside and washed it. I am expecting the carrot to be tough and bitter, but I thought I might as well give it a try.

A few new plants growing
I was tilling up the soil for the strawberries, when I smelled the distinct smell of garlic. That was when I noticed that I had pulled up a clutch of what could only be a small left-over garlic plant from last year. Now, I'm not sure what this means, as I didn't get any garlic plants last year. They all looked like undeveloped chives when I finally pulled them. So I'm not sure where these came from. On a whim, I decided to separate and plant them. After the re-plant, they looked very limp and sad. I'm not sure if they'll make it. But, hey, they were free - and I wasn't planning on even trying garlic last year, after last year's lack of success. So, it only cost me a bit of soil...

And also, my forest of cilantro is just starting to come up. Woot! I love my winter cilantro!! This is probably the fourth year these little plants continue to re-seed. I love it!!

A few new plants planted
A few weeks late (but still earlier than last year when it was late January), I decided to try and put in some strawberries. I really wish I'd gotten these out a few weeks ago. They would have loved all of the rain!

I pulled some compost out of the compost pile and mixed it into the soil. The NG notes say to mix in some flower power with the plants, so I will do that tomorrow (sprinkled on top, since I didn't mix into the soil). The notes say to use seaweed soak, which we happen to have, so I will use that tomorrow as well. It also suggests I use coffee grounds. Now, we are not coffee drinkers here, but I just happened to purchase coffee for my nephew who was visiting for Thanksgiving, so I think I'll mix some of those on top as well.

I picked one box (five plants each) of each of the three varieties NG had. The back most row is Seascape, the middle row is Chandler and the front row (closest to the gate) is Sequoia. 

Chandler:  A medium to large strawberry; brilliant red color and exceptional flavor; Medium firm, long, wedge-shaped to conical; vigorous and high-yielding; very popular variety' may be susceptible to anthracnose - add actino-iron to soil

Seascape:  A large, glossy bright red strawberry; conical to round fruit; superb flavor and juicy; performs well in hot dry climates; highly virus and disease resistant; productive; Developed at UC Davis

Sequoia - A very large, very sweet, medium-red strawberry; Large, wedge-shaped fruit; big vigorous plant; high quality fruit is somewhat soft and perishable when ripe

I still have five or so strawberries left over from last year. They have hung on through the heat of summer, so I am really hoping they start to grow and I get some fruit from these small plants as well!

I also planted five lettuce plants. I have already managed to lose one of the identi-sticks, and have forgotten the variety of types the others were. Honestly, I just looked for the lighter green, since Kyle doesn't like the red-green.  Last year, the lettuce was so easy to grow, and we really loved being able to walk out and pluck a nice salad throughout the winter (I just wish I had some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to go on it!)

I also picked up one cabbage plant - I think it was Savoy variety, but I need to check. It is a bit early for cabbage, but NG had them in stock, so I thought I'd try them. We really enjoyed the one cabbage plant that grew last year, and I was hoping to plant more of the m this year. We used the one from last year to make egg rolls, but I'd also like to try some fermented sauerkraut as well this year. After the first of the year I will probably plant a few more plants. I just thought I'd try one nice and early! 

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