Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Taking Stock

I went out yesterday and it really did feel like spring. Even the daffodils have started to push out of the soil. Which means it was time to start planting as long as the ground was unfrozen. I'll get to that last part tomorrow, but for now I'll go through the state of the perennials and overwintered crops.

First up is the spinach. It had survived well. Many of the older leaves were dead, but the new ones were starting. They looked better than I expected after being buried in 6' of snow (I shovel the path onto their bed and the snow from the solar panels on the roof comes down on top of them, so they get a lot of heavy heavy snow on top of them).

The dwarf curly kale always seems to do well. And they all survived. I don't eat those old leaves, but new ones will start to grow soon. Sadly the mache looks pretty ragged. If it doesn't grow new leaves before it bolts, I won't be eating it.

The Winterbor kale looks pretty sad. It isn't totally dead. Only time will tell if I get anything edible out of it this year.

The garlic has started to come up. The grid looks perfect, so most if not all of the plants survived. Those are the only overwintered plants in the garden. I do have a lot of perennials - mainly herbs in the garden.

Many of my herbs are in the herb circle (chives, oregano, English thyme, garlic chives, savory, and sage). I did a quick clean up of the bed. I used the garlic chives stems to help mulch the ground as otherwise the cats will dig in it. I cut the sage way back. I think this year I need to get a circular support for it. Otherwise it drapes itself over other parts of the circle and kills the herbs there.

The big question every year for me is if my rosemary has survived or not. And I'm really not sure yet. It has faded quite a bit. I'm in zone 6b and rosemary is not hardy here. I use Arp which is a hardier rosemary, but not reliably hardy. I used to have four plants scattered around the yard. This is the only surviving one. To keep it going I really need to scatter more around. And as you can see the sage plant nearby is leaning over it. I have four sage plants scattered around the garden. At the start they would die off often, but I think I've finally gotten them in places they like. Which is good as we go through a lot of sage every year.

The French thyme has survived well here. It wasn't very happy in the herb circle so I took a cutting and put one here. It likes the location because it has winter protection. I prop the garden gate open in the winter and it goes right in front of the thyme. This keeps the wind off of it. Usually French thyme is harder to keep going than English thyme, but it seems a lot healthier than my English thyme in the herb circle. The pots above are my mints. I don't see any growth out of them yet, but I'm sure they are alive. Can you kill a mint?

My tarragon lives next to a current plant. I cleaned up the dead branches and leaves. I see small shoots coming up underneath so they are doing well. I don't use a lot of tarragon in my cooking, but enough that I need to grow it.

And last but not least, my rhubarb is coming up. I'll have to think about what I'm going to do with it this year. I've taken a lot of the sugar out of my diet and you really can't eat rhubarb without sugar. I could make some rhubarb butter for the neighbors again. That was so so good. And I can eat the leftover bits. Yum.

Tomorrow I'll talk about my first plantings. I was so excited to find soil that was unfrozen. Whoohoo! I love spring. Sadly the forecast has three days of dismal cool temps, with highs in the 40s, but the weathermen assure me that it will warm up on Friday and it will even feel like spring. I'll be able to garden in a sunhat instead of a fleece cap and coat. Time to get dirt under my fingernails.


  1. That spinach looks amazing! I tried to overwinter my kale as well, but they all look pretty much like your Winterbor, so who knows if it will actually give me anything this spring. We are still fairly cool here, so not much has started growing yet.

  2. Wow, I'm learning so much from you, I had no idea spinach could survive that kind of cold. I gave up on growing it a while ago but maybe I'll try again. I love your herb circle! Totally want one :)

  3. Hi Daphne, You do have a lot of perennials. I have a little English thyme left but think I need to buy a few new. I have my spearmint and lemon balm in a wooden tub and they look like they may not come back very well either but I think they will. I have to be patient! Nancy

  4. Everything looks amazingly well given the amount of snow it was buried under. I will be curious to see if you come up with low-sugar uses for the rhubarb. We should have a decent amount of it this year, and everything I know to do with it requires a large amount of sweetener. I'm always looking to cut sugars, but I think rhubarb will be a challenge!

  5. Oh dear, your plants really have had a battering! Still, as you say, I reckon that most of them will come through it all OK. Many herbs for instance are incredibly resilient. Interesting comment about the Mint - I think the answer is "No, you can't kill Mint". It seems to re-grow from even a tiny fragment of root.

  6. A lot going on in your gardens already!
    I had no idea spinach and kale could overwinter. Now I wish I hadn't pulled up the last 3 kale stalks in the autumn, although the goats did enjoy them. Something to remember for next year :)

  7. So nice to have unfrozen grounds to work with again, I'm surprised at your spinach surviving that much snow. I've killed couple mint plants before, they were planted in Earthboxes, their roots have nowhere to go but stayed inside the box, they died and didn't come back the following spring :)

  8. My success overwintering kale really depends on the winter. The heavy snow cover probably insulated it from the single digit temps we had. As far as rosemary, I've had it survive into January in a mild winter but it never makes it to spring.