The winter garden is wet and cold, but stubbornly remains too productive for me to just ignore it until the weather gets nicer. Fall-planted peas are forming pods. Salad greens are thriving despite the fact that I don't especially crave salad right now, leading me to look for warm dishes to make with mâche and miner's lettuce and ficoide glaciale.
The last of the root crops are patiently waiting to be picked, most of them still good after all these months. The rhubarb is loving the rain and has unfolded enormous leaves over vibrant red stalks, but I am obeying the Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles and giving it two full growing seasons to get established before I start harvesting it.
|rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)|
|miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), minutina (Plantago coronopus)|
|mâche (Valerianella locusta)|
Even the artichoke plant I tore out has regrown itself from some scrap of root left in the soil. I still don't like artichokes enough to justify the space or the effort it takes to keep the plant aphid-free, but I do have to respect that kind of tenacity.
Not everything is flourishing, of course. Between rains I've been pulling out the remaining tomato plants, whose last clinging fruits will never, ever ripen. The same is true of the peppers, a reminder that I need to plant them earlier this year.
The slugs, miserable little bastards, have eaten most of the chard and are now taking down my purple brussels sprouts. The strawberries keep trying to put out fruit, but the berries get nibbled and rot before they can ripen. If I were more diligent, I would go out and pinch off the blossoms, saving the plants their heartbreak and letting them put the energy into roots and runners.
Instead, I'm starting to think about what to plant this spring, and where to put what. Last year at this time the garden was almost a blank slate. This year I'll need to work around what I've already got. New plantings will need to fit in between the perennials and the fall-planted annuals who won't vacate their places until later in the spring.
I've got my sketchpads and my favorite gardening books out. Over the next few weeks, I'll make careful lists and schedules, calendars and sketches of plant layouts that account for nutritional needs and crop rotations. Of course, in all likelihood, I'll then just buy whatever catches my eye at the nursery, come home, sigh at my lack of foresight, and plant it anywhere it fits.
|Glacier lettuce (Ficoide glaciale)|