It is a snowy, icy, muddy mess out in the garden right now. The warm weather had made it seem as if winter was not going to make an appearance, so I had begun to prep the beds again. I managed to do a little clean up of spent vines and distribution of compost on about a third of the garden before Old Man Winter realized I might be taking advantage of his absence. He showed up a few days later and unceremoniously dumped nearly a foot of wet, heavy snow over everything, crushing the plants that did not have protection. A few hours before it started falling, I pulled tarps, my small cold frame, and all the boxes and crates I could find out from under the deck and began covering everything that I thought needed a little protection. We went from 60 degrees to the teens in a matter of hours, and I wanted to get that heat trapped under the covers for my plants. I have a tendency to lose my sense of aesthetics during winter chores and reach for the practical instead, as is evident in the photo.
I’m not much for the cold and ice, so I didn’t venture out until things had melted a bit. I’m also still somewhat annoyed by the turn of events these past months. Early last October I dutifully planted my “fall crops” only to have them bolt to seed in a matter of days, pushed to completion by the warm, summer-like temperatures infiltrating what should have been a cool season. I had waited an extra month to start the planting, and, even so, it was too early, or, perhaps, too optimistic. None of the old ideas seem to work particularly well in this time of changing climate. A few lettuces, radishes, and greens survived and were beginning to look as if they would really take hold for the coming months. And then the weather turned. Go directly to snow. Do not pass fall. Do not collect gorgeous weather, cool temperatures, and scarlet foliage. No arugula for you.
Another snow has fallen, but this one was light and powdery. A walk through the beds on a grey day and I am, once again, marveling at the resilience of the humble leek, stalwart survivor of heat, drought, flood, snow, ice, and anything else that comes its way. There are some carrots under there, too, and I should pull them before it gets warm again and they flower. This area is the only one where I don’t rotate the crops. At some point in the past, this corner of my garden held a children’s sandbox, and as the coarser material slowly worked its way into the clay over the years, the soil became soft and friable, perfect for those plants that send their roots deep into the earth.
I always try to step out of the garden hopeful for the future, but it is difficult to muster a positive outlook during the worst of winter, particularly for those of us who grew up in warmer latitudes. With rain forecast for today and teens in the ten day, more mud and ice is certain to be in my future. Until things look a little better out here, I’ve decided to test my gardening skills inside by cultivating a few microorganisms. Sourdough bread was a quarantine trend when yeast got scarce, though I am a bit late getting on the bandwagon. I first tried gluten-free sourdough years ago after a family member’s diagnosis of celiac disease, but it proved quite tricky, and an anti-carb trend was making GF items much easier to find in the stores. A new cookbook has me hoping that I can finally pull it off with some healthful, whole grains, and if it doesn’t work, I’m just out a few bags of flour. So I’ll plan on some leek and potato soup for the coming week, and maybe another dish with carrots. At least for now, however, it’s time to come in from the cold.