Many gardeners, especially this far north, “put the garden to bed” for the winter. Gluttons for punishment that we are, we are just ramping up the garden chores in hopes of outwitting the inhospitable conditions to come, as well as hedging our bets by stashing away lots of root vegetables in the cellar.
We’ve been harvesting carrots, beets, turnips, giant kohlrabi (check out the lens cap) and rutabagas for storage. They will keep until we eat them–as I dumped the remains of leaves and moldery leftovers from last year, I discovered several large beets still as hard as rocks, and perfectly edible–this is not the first time, either–I guess I should plant fewer beets (or at least stop waging war on the voles that nibble on them).
Peter and Faith came on Sunday afternoon and helped us move the hoop house to it’s new location. The beds to be covered were planted in late summer (a few things have been in since spring) and now are filled with leeks, celery, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, endive, escarole, radicchio, scallions, chinese cabbage, bokchoy tatsoi and mizuna.
The severity of the winter will determine how long various plants will survive, but as it gets colder I will add mulch and double cover with reemay, inside the hoop. And even though it will probably be cold enough to knock things back, if last year is anything to go by, many of those plants will regrow from the roots just as soon as it warms a little bit.
Another preparation is actually for next summer–planting the garlic. I put in about 4 pounds ( 180 cloves) of garlic today. They are sharing a bed with the overwintering parsnips–they taste good right now, but in early spring they will be magnificent–well worth leaving them in the ground over winter and being patient.
But, we still have a few more weeks (I sincerely hope!) before it really freezes (and let’s not even mention the S*** word), and there are some nice hardy crops that can be safely left to their own devices in the open garden for a while–brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, spinach, daikon and more carrots. Some people leave carrots in the ground all winter, but knowing the kind of havoc voles wreak in our garden in the summer, with the whole world full of delicious things to eat, I can just imagine how long sweet, tender carrots would last once safely covered with snow–snow that hides the vole tunnels from aerial predators!
Most of the color in the landscape these days is from the autumn leaves–many of the garden flowers have had their day–but in a few protected corners there are still some beauties that haven’t yet gotten the memo–