One of the things I love about YouTube is finding people with the same personalities and ideas. One of my favorite you tubers at the moment is Jess from Roots and Refuge; I have spent the pandemic watching her garden grow and die back this season. Her love of different types of plants (silver slicing cucumbers and ground cherries, to name a few) were definite reasons for us to pick up packs of seeds. Her insistence that a fall/winter garden was well worth the effort; was a key component to us heading back out to the garden when we would typically slow down. So here we are at the beginning of November, and I’ve set another batch of seeds in the ground. I have one or two more boxes to prep (not including the garlic and onions), and I am eagerly watching as sprouts grow.
Before I go too far into this post, I should mention we are very blessed with our growing season; I don’t expect a frost until January. We very rarely, if at all, get a hard frost over the winter. We have taken some liberties with this in mind, like planting a few cucumbers in September that are slowly producing for us. We just harvested a bunch of peppers but are hoping we get one more flush before we attempt to overwinter them.
So what have we planted?
Since this is our first year planting a fall/winter garden, we’re trying to keep things easy and to foods that week know we like. This week I planted half a box with beets and the other half with broccoli, two of our winter staples. Well, really mine – I love beets – Eddie thinks they taste like dirt but suffers through them when I add the juice to smoothies). We have two batches, each of Kale, lettuce, bunching onions, leeks, and 3 different carrots. We also have a small set of turnips that I think are close to being ready, but I really should have thinned them out, so they’re tiny. In our other large box close to the house, we plan on planting more leeks, carrots, lettuce, and we got a free seed pack of Kholrobi from Baker Creek that we thought we’d give it a shot. Oh, I forgot – in the left garden, we have a small patch of peas – that are growing very slowly but steadily – I’m hoping we’ll get at least a few pods. In a moment of weakness, Eddie planted 3 squash plants that may or may not produce before the frost kills them off. But that’s one of the beautiful things that Jess professes on her channel – you have to be willing to experiment and see if things work. Maybe they will, perhaps not, but if you don’t try, you won’t know.
A learning experience
One of the big things that I’ve noticed planting in the last month is how long the sprouts take to come up. I’m used to a quick sprout in the summer garden (5-7 days for most things). For some of these sprouts, it took almost two weeks and, in some cases, longer for anything to appear. I have a batch of herbs I’m hoping to harvest before the cold does them in, and I’m just now, after almost a month, seeing sprouts come up. As we prepare to plant flower bulbs, garlic and onions, I’m reminding Eddie most of these things we won’t see sprout for months. In the case of the garlic, we won’t harvest until next summer.
This week I have spent more time in the garden than I have in the last month; I had forgotten what a place of solace and peace it has been for me, for us this year. The hard work of planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting, preparing, and preserving. Followed by the sheer joy of seeing and being able to consume what you’ve created. I will tell you, there is nothing better than sitting in the middle of the garden, with the sun kissing your skin, a cool breeze tickling your neck, the smell of dirt and herbs and green things, and the sound of bees busily grabbing the last of the pollen before winter. It’s a reminder that I need to slow down and ease into this next season. This year, spring and summer have been filled with chaos and uncertainty – along with joys and new beginnings. I feel that fall and winter will be a time to regroup, “hibernate” in some ways. Hopefully, as spring emerges next year, new beginnings and different hopes will spout.
Yesterday – in the middle of all the turmoil with the election, after hours of anxiously watching TV and waiting for answers, I turned it off and walked into the garden. We prepped another box for planting slowly and purposefully. Adding in coconut core for better water retention and a bit of pearlite for better aeration, topping off with compost and, finally, planting seeds. It was my small line in the sand, something I could control, something that brought me joy at the moment. It forced me to experience smells and textures, hear sounds of nature – not of commentators and conjecture. And it reminded me of a wonderful local businesswoman and blogger who brought my thoughts so beautifully to words earlier this year:
“I believe gardening is a form of protesting in a time of social and political unrest. With an administration aiming to divide the nation, lead by fear and prejudice and make money at all costs, it’s important to find empowerment within our local communities. Historically, gardening has always been a way to take care of ourselves, our families, and connect with communities – let alone ground into nature and the natural rhythm of the earth. “Jennifer Lee Segale
As we head into more uncertainty over the next few weeks/months – know on the dark days I’ll be bundled up out in my garden, connecting with the natural rhythm of the earth, looking for joy, (and probably snacks)