Saturday, December 5, 2009

Putting the Garden to Bed

Thursday was the height of our warm fall. Boston broke their record high of 65F by four degrees. I wasn't planning on going out into the garden because the forecasts all called for rain, but the rain broke in the morning and the sun came out. It was quite beautiful. Friday the weather started changing. The cold is moving in. For the next week our lows will be in the 20Fs and the highs around 40F. I'm guessing in a week our ground might well be frozen permanently for the winter. So I was out harvesting most of the rest of the crops and cleaning up the garden. Earlier in the week all the lettuce was picked and brought in.

The Chinese cabbage was almost too pretty to pick. These two in the shadiest part of the garden never headed up. Weirdly the slugs still stayed to the outside of the plants and the middles were pristine. The little one has already been eaten in a stirfry on Thursday. I'm contemplating making soup again with the big one.

I had a small patch of carrots that were sown in August and germinated. They weren't full size yet, but they were long, thin, and very sweet. It is a puny harvest compared to my other carrot harvests, but the taste is so much better. None of these will see a pot. They will all be eaten fresh.

I have two brassica patches. This is the shady one. I harvested all the broccoli and mizuna and pulled the plants. The lower patch also had broccoli that was harvested and pulled. Now all that is left here are the kale. I figure they can take the freezing temps so I'll leave them for later in December when my bounty from this week is done.

The chard leaves were all picked, but I didn't have the heart to pull the plants. If we do get a week of good weather in December I'm guessing these stumps will produce. I had harvested them earlier figuring it was their last harvest, but no I got another good one again. Chard just can't be kept down. As you can see I had nine plants. They produced from May-December. I need more next year.

I picked my leeks and one bunching onion. The bottom is my biggest leek. The top is one of my bunching onions. It was a really good year for my bunching onions, but it is a sad leek that can't keep up. I left four more onions in the ground. I've had them occasionally overwinter without protection and I'm thinking fresh onions in the spring are worth it. I've also left all my spinach in since the slugs had a field day with it. I put it under a row cover without hoops (since they would just collapse). I also have some mache that has germinated. The germination was spotty and right now they are tiny. It has no protection and ought to overwinter just fine, but it will be a good trial to see if they can survive.

The last chore was to pick up all the tools, hoops, pails and row covers and put them away for the winter. I have a tendancy to leave things out in the garden, but don't want to do that over the winter as nothing would survive.

The garden looks so bare. The herb garden is in the lower left part. It still shows green. I never cut it back in the fall but clean that part up in the spring. Now that the garden is put to bed it is time to look forward to next year. I have to do an inventory of all my seed, then starts the fun of planning what to get this year. My Fedco catalog arrived yesterday so it is good timing.


  1. Oh gosh, that chinese cabbage is just beautiful! I didn't know you had so many different things growing this time of year, and it's sad that it had to come to an end. Oh well, there's still composting and planning for next year..

  2. And looking forward, we are ! I've never been so eager for Spring to arrive.
    Happy planning ! :)

  3. EG, I didn't have a lot of anything, but little bits and pieces were still left.

    miss m, I'm looking forward to a short break. In January I'll be dying to get out to the garden though and I'll have months to wait.

  4. Well we were out doing the same thing again today, great minds think alike. Maybe it is more of a weather thing then telepathy this time :-) That is one big bunching onion, who needs leeks when they grow that large! My garden is just as bare asides form all the garden contraptions. Time to hibernate until spring.

  5. It looks peaceful and waiting. Enjoy your rest season.

  6. The carots and Chinese cabbage look great! Probably a good idea to leave the chard alone - I bet you'll be glad you did! I really need to try chard next year.

  7. About that same time here in my garden. Through a little leaf mulch over my onions and garlic and pulled everything else. Guess it is the grow box until indoor planting time, which really isn't that long away...

  8. Dan, the onions are tasty too. My favorite is in quiche with some kind of green. A really good layer of bunching onions make sit taste really good and aren't quite the work of carmelized onions later on.

    Stefaneener, I will.

    Wendy, yes try chard. It is such a wonderful crop. I can't live without it.

    CVG, not much else left. I'll be starting my indoor seedling at the end of January. I have exactly one plant inside. It is an unkillable plant. My lab partner in college gave me it ages ago. So you know it is unkillable since I've had it for over 25 years.

  9. The bunching onion is amazing. My leeks never seem to get really fat and thick but are more along the lines of yours in the photo. I probably need to do some reading on the subject and see if there is anything I could be doing differently to get better results.

  10. WOW, those carrots are really long. I grew nantes and napoli this fall...they seem pretty stocky...either it's the variety or I need to dig my beds deeper.

  11. kitsapFG, I've never gotten huge ones either. They tend to stop at 1" but then the variety I'm using is often used for leeks scallions. So probably isn't the biggest anyway. Next year I might go for King Sieg and see if I get huge ones.

    Thomas, it is the variety. SugarSnax grows really long. But if you grow SugarSnax next year you might have to dig your beds deeper. They need a good foot of growing space. The bed these came from wasn't double dug anytime recently, but the first foot I took out and sifted for rocks. It worked great except for the one on the left that was all hairy. I'm blaming that one on growing the carrots where I had the peas earlier in the year.