Monday, December 6, 2010
What a funny year this has been.. and here we are in early December and we're smack in the middle of another warm stretch.. It was 12 C in the backyard yesterday and I had to fully prop open the cold frames and open the ends of the mini hoop tunnels. (Don't you love my fancy cold frame prop? My broken garden fork) When it was minus 8 C a week or two ago, I thought it would be safe to close them up for the winter.. I guess Mother Nature had a few more tricks up her sleeve!
It was so glorious yesterday morning that I took the opportunity to plant more garlic - about another 50 cloves.. with the soil soft and warm, it only took about 10 minutes. Plus, it felt great to be up and puttering in the garden. It has actually been a few days since I peeked into the cold frames, so it was nice to air them out for a few hours and give them a sprinkle of water.
Two of the more interesting crops that we're growing (and eating) right now are claytonia and Sylvetta arugula, which is a 'wild' type of arugula. It only grows about half the height of the common arugula with deeply lobed leaves and a bit more 'bite'! It's fantastic and extremely cold tolerant - not that it's very cold outside at this point! Plus, it continues to grow through winter, even when we have less than 10 hours of sunshine - the typical cutoff point for many veggies.
Claytonia is also extremely hardy - it rivals mache in terms of winter hardiness. When young, it has lovely heart-shaped leaves that will eventually 'wrap' around a central edible flower stem as they mature. The plant forms a tidy rosette and I like to steal a handful of leaves from each plant, allowing them to continue growing. It's great tossed with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil - simple, but sensational!
I'm also surprised at the hardiness of Winter Landis lettuce.. Some of the Rouge d'hiver has already succumbed to the frigid weather over the past few weeks, but the Winter Landis looks fantastic - and it's at the edge of the cold frame.. We also have Winter Density lettuce planted in another frame, and it's also looking very good. It's fun to play with the various 'winter' lettuces to see how long you can stretch the lettuce season.. it seems to get longer and longer each year..