Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The deep freeze!

It's now mid-late January and the winter 'deep-freeze' has officially set in! Baby, it's cold outside! But, I can't complain, as Carleen, my editor and Joe, my photographer were in town from last Thurs to Sunday for our final book photo shoot.. and we had spectacular weather! On Saturday, we were taking images for the cover and the garden was covered with a foot of snow, but the weather was sunny/cloudy and the temp was hovering around zero - gorgeous! When the sun came out, it was actually warm.. Joe, who is originally from Colorado, but in his own words, is currently "stuck in Alabama", actually took off his coat! Sunday also gave us great weather for the last day of the shoot and then the temperatures plunged yesterday! Brrrrr.. so glad we're not photographing the garden today! It's -19 C!

Yet, we took so many great images - the celeriac and carrots covered with leaves and a row cover.. all the cold frames stuffed with vibrant green (and red) veggies.. The kale and greens filled hoop tunnels, the hardy herbs and much more!

I just popped up to the garden to retrieve that celeriac we photographed on Sunday.. once we disturbed its blanket of leaves and snow cover, it started to freeze pretty fast.. So, I just re-dug it up and am going to add it to a big pot of leek soup today (FYI - the recipe is in a MUCH earlier post!) I still have about 6 more celeriac roots buried under the shredded leaves - they are so hardy! Next year, I think I'll plant at least 20. They're so useful - mashed with potatoes, added to soups, sauteed with butter (thanks to Barbara Pleasant - one of my favourite garden writers - for that tip!)

Each day, about 4 to 5 seed catalogues are arriving.. I've placed one order so far, but have plenty more I need (want!).. I'm so lucky to have a few neighbours who like to order with me, so we save on shipping and share packages of things like tomatoes (who needs 40 seeds of each variety?).. it's a great way to budget and still get to enjoy a wide variety of veggies.

My big discovery this year has been just how hardy red salad bowl lettuce is. It's an oakleaf red lettuce and is also extremely cold tolerant. It's always done well for me, but this is the first year that I've played with it in the structures. Not only did it survive in the unprotected garden until early Jan, it's still looking fantastic in the cold frames - not a hint of smut! Amazing.. and a great choice for a year-round veggie garden. Winter Density lettuce is also doing extremely well - it's a cross between a butterhead and a romaine - pretty and delicious.

Well, it's time to organize my seed boxes.. wish me luck!

Happy Gardening!


  1. Nikki: Interesting look at your winter garden. I really ought to give celeriac a try.
    Do you start it early or direct seed?

  2. Hi Sharon, I would recommend cheating - buy a 6 pack of transplants (or more, if you like) in mid-May from your local garden center.. Of course, you can start them indoors from seed if you like in late Feb-early March, but they are very slow to grow. It's easiest to buy transplants if you only want a handful of celeriac (or celery).

    Also, when I'm about to cover the celeriac bed in late autumn, there are often a few little 'sidesprouts' coming out of the side of the roots. I carefully dig these up and pot them on my windowsill for fresh celery sprigs all winter long.. yummy! :)

  3. This is good to know about celeriac as we left ours in the garden this winter too. Looks like you have recieved a nice amount of snow there, excellent insulation for those cold frames. And a book, how exciting.:)

  4. Some day, when I live in one place, I'd love to have a cold frame. In the meantime, how about a peek inside yours?!

  5. Hi Ellen! Great to hear from you.. keep scrolling down and there are plenty of photos of the inside of these babies.. love the frames so much! When you pop the tops, it's like spring in there.. it even smells like spring - moist and earthy..

    Hope you enjoyed your trip!


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)