Saturday, May 10, 2014

Preparing for Winter

Yes it is springtime in Boston, but here I am preparing for winter already. We get about 3-4 months every year where the ground is frozen. So to eat from the garden during that time, I have to preserve my crop when it becomes available.

The first thing I did yesterday was pick the sage. It was starting to put out buds. This is often the time that is recommended to pick as the herbs are more flavorful then. I don't know if that is true or an old wives' tale. But the leaves are pretty tender and good then, so I do tend to follow that rule. This year I have a new dehydrator. My old one was just a heating element in the bottom. It had gotten pretty sad over the decades and part of the heating element wasn't working anymore. My new one is SO nicer compared to my old one. It has a thermostat and a heat distribution fan. It really drys things very evenly, especially compared to my old one. No more rotating the herb trays - either top to bottom or side to side.

My herb circle is starting to perk up. The oregano on the right is really taking off. It won't be long until it too gets chopped back for a harvest. The two types of chives I only use fresh, so I don't need to preserve them. On the left of the lower chives is where my dead rosemary used to be. I ripped it out and put in three little winter savory plants. I hope they do well. I don't even know what winter savory tastes like. Hopefully I'll like it. The thyme, especially the French thyme, barely made it through the winter. I might have to put in a new plant. I have another one growing elsewhere because it often likes to die. So I will probably layer it (if it hasn't done that itself) and replace it.

The overwintered spinach didn't do so well this year. It is bolting already and never gave me much of a harvest. I did pick what was good. Many of the leaves are deformed and unhappy. I wish I knew why it didn't do well this year. Usually these plants put out foot long leaves by this time of the year. I wonder if it is because I started them so early in the fall. I even got to harvest a bit then. I might have to experiment this fall and do half early and half later to see which gives me a better harvest.

This is the meager harvest that I blanched and froze. I still have some frozen spinach from last year that I'm eating up. If I could eat it fresh in salads I would, but overwintered spinach tends to be very high in oxalic acid and gritty because of it. I like to boil the spinach to get rid of a lot of it. I blanch for 2 minutes and then get it quickly in an ice water bath. Then squeeze the water out and put it up in one person servings - maybe 2/3 of a cup each.

The spring spinach is great for spinach salads and eating fresh. But it is being so slow this year. I hope it starts sizing up soon as I want a good harvest. Last year I got about 11 pounds. I'm sure I won't get nearly that much this year.

And I know I don't usually show off harvests except on Mondays, but aren't they just so cute. I way over planted the radishes and they all come in at once. So I figured I ought to pick some early. And then just keep it up until they are too old to eat. The largest is about 1.5" long and about a 1 cm wide. So they are small little things. But still large enough to enjoy.


  1. Those radishes ARE cute and I love your circle herb garden. I just noticed my sage is perking up but I did lose a few branches that I will need to trim. I am still a ways away from harvesting any.

  2. Those radishes are quiet adorable! Your spinach is looking better than mine. It started bolting at about 3 inches. It was spring planted and the past week we have been very, very warm (90s) and I guess that was just too much for it.

  3. I feel like things are growing so slow right now, even though the weather has warmed up. It's also so dry. I was praying for rain today but that didn't happen. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

  4. I had a shock when I saw the title of your post! After all, you have only just finished with one Winter, and it seems premature to get another one so soon.
    Those Radishes look like perfect specimens. Your favourite "French Breakfast", by any chance?

    1. Yes they are French Breakfast. Since the seed keeps well I bought a large packet of them a couple years ago. I've been pretty happy with them.

  5. Unfortunately, the only herb that survived our winter this year was the chives. I'm sure it didn't help that I transplanted all the other herbs late in the season last year - they probably didn't have their roots established sufficiently to survive the horrible winter temps we had. My spinach is still so small too - this is the 1st year I'm growing it so it's re-assuring when I see that those with spinach growing experience are in the same boat.