Half the country may be covered with snow, but the Gardenerd Test Garden is going strong here in Southern California. Don’t think of it as bragging; think of it as a beacon to spring plantings to come. This Saturday marks the first day of winter, but it also means the days will get a little longer each day–a step closer to spring as each day passes.
How nice for you…what can I do now?
This is the time to spray fruit trees with dormant oil (Thanksgiving, New Years and Valentine’s day) and prune before buds set. It’s time to dive into seed catalogs that are showing up in the mail. It’s time to read up (might I suggest Gardening for Geeks?) and learn a new gardening tip or two over winter.
If you do have a garden going, this is the time to plant transplants from the nursery. Seeds don’t always germinate in cooler temperatures, so spend the money on starts and you’ll be glad you did. Now here’s an update on what’s happening here:
We’re harvesting chard, kale, mustard greens, radishes, lettuces and arugula. Our peas are starting to flower and our carrot and parsnip crops are filling in.
Potatoes are going gangbusters, and our summer tomatoes were pulled in favor of a winter cover crop.
The fall garden has kept us busy, and our hens have been busy too. We were afraid they might skip through to spring without laying, but two of our girls started laying recently. In fact, Wilma the Wellsummer laid her first egg in the middle of our recent Garden, Bee, Chicken Trifecta Holiday party. It was such a delight for the crowd.
We’ve counted at least 5 Monarch butterfly cocoons in the last week. They are hidden amongst the milkweed, parsley (they love that plant!) and our trumpet vine. There were at least 10 more caterpillars spotted, soon to begin the transformation. What a lucky score!
We’ve left the bees alone for the winter to do their business. They are busy foraging for nectar in nearby native flowers and our recent rains have sprouted beneficial insectaries that have volunteered throughout the garden. The bees’ hard work over summer has given us hostess gifts for the holidays.
We’re enjoying winter squash harvested in late summer with plenty of soups and other delights. These pumpkin oatmeal spice muffins gave us a chance to showcase winter’s bounty.
With the holidays approaching, the garden is basically on autopilot. It gives us a chance to sit back and relax a little before the New Year hurls us into new plans and adventures. Here’s to celebrating the little things, the harvest, and the joy it brings.