Winter Gardening

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Totally child-free hummus and arugula sandwich

This was my lunch today.

It’s a hummus sandwich with cucumber and arugula.  The arugula came from one of the raised beds in our hoop house and it was delicious.  There is, without question, no greater culinary joy for me than eating what I’ve grown (with the notable exception of my two children–they are tough and chewy).

We have struggled with maintaining an above-freezing environment in the hoop house and I’ve written here previously about our various attempts at bringing heat to this seemingly unheatable space.  When we finally gave in and built the mini hoop houses to cover each raised bed, they did seem to do the trick.

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Unfortunate victim-of-cat-subterfuge-lettuce-mix in the top left of the pic, more robust and thriving romaine in the foreground

We are having varied results with the lettuces.  The more delicate lettuce mix that served us so well over the summer in the outside garden was a favorite for the cats when confined to the raised bed.  They munched it down and dug it up and generally ruined any chance it had of succeeding.  Luckily, they were not so fond of the romaine lettuces and those are coming along nicely.

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Poop-free mustard greens

Briefly, the cats wreaked a special kind of havoc on the mustard greens bed.  They decided that one specific corner was The Litter Box.  At first, I was cleaning the daily cat presents and continuing to hope for the greens to grow there.  Then, one day, Dave saw what I was doing and made pointed gagging noises in the back of his throat.  Being a girl that could take a hint, I pulled up the plants in that general vicinity (and the general surrounding vicinity), closed off the bed to future feline fecal festivities, and turned an old bus tub into a litter box.

Now they are beautiful and healthy and smell only of mustard greens.

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Kale Light

Our kale, while succeeding, is wilty and fragile and delicate.  I feel like kale should be the exact opposite of all of those things.  Even the name KALE is sturdy.

A decided drawback to growing a winter garden under protective cover is the total absence of wind.  Wind does wonderful things for plants–namely, it strengthens them.  A plant forced to withstand winds of any speed will necessarily become stronger and more vibrant.

Because the strongest wind our kale experiences is the occasional exhale from me or Dave, it grows spindly and light.  And yet, it grows.

Our yellow chard is plugging along and should be ready to pick in a couple of weeks.  The arugula is, however, the crowning achievement of the season.  Attempting to grow arugula in sub-zero temperatures was, potentially, a fool’s errand.  I just love it so gosh darned much, the thought of being without it for upwards of six months was more than I could accept.

IMG_1558I almost cheated and transplanted our mature arugula from the outside garden when the temperatures started to drop.  I’d already planted seeds the previous month and had good seedlings going, but I was tempted by the prospect of getting a head start on my head start.

In the end, I stuck with my seedlings and today, for the first time, I got to eat freshly picked arugula in December.  If all goes well, right around the time we’ll be finishing our next pig (sometime in January), we’ll be able to bring a mid-winter delivery of pork, eggs, and hoop house greens down to applewood.

And that will be pretty cool.

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About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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One Response to Winter Gardening

  1. AWESOME POST!!! I really miss the kale I grew in Mississippi. I think I just may have to grow it here next fall even though mom and dad don’t eat greens. I took a break this fall because I haven’t lived here for about 30 years and I wanted to see what “F” was like again.

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