Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trees, kale, tomatoes

I have cut up five of our neighbors' Christmas trees in the past three days, and put the branches under our blueberries. The neighbors put their trees out on the curb, where they are handy for Fred to drag home. Others are available, if you want to do likewise. I'm told azaleas and other acid-loving bushes appreciate them too.
I planted the blueberry bushes over 20 years ago. They came from a now-defunct mail order house and were a series of varieties that bear over a significant period. I planted them down the neighbors' driveway, and have told the neighbors (five families have lived there since they were planted) that they could pick any they could reach from their driveway. That leaves plenty for me.

Their only fertilizer over the past 20 years has been Christmas trees. They bear well, so that seems to be adequate. It's a bit of a project, but how many outside activities entice one on a sunny January day?

Blueberries require lots of picking time per calorie, so it helps to have children around the house to pick them. However, I can pick enough for a tasty addition to breakfast. Raspberries yield far more calories per fifteen minutes if filling your tummy is the goal.

On Monday I admired my single kale plant that had survived the autumn assault by predators. Today I noticed that only the stems are left. WHO would have done that?!!! It isn't insect damage. I haven't noticed any marauders around recently. Woodchucks should be deep into a long winter's sleep.
When my kids were here, our salad green in winter was kale, which grew abundantly in the fall and waited patiently to be picked in winter. I would break it off the stem, let it thaw in the kitchen, and wash it off for a very fresh salad. Now our winter salad green is primarily lettuce growing in the kitchen greenhouse window -- thank goodness!

The good (and amazing) news is that Fred and I shared a garden tomato last evening, January 5!!! We had another on New Year's Eve. These tomatoes are not imposing, but they are almost as big as plums -- and they are ripening in January. This is unprecedented. A garden is full of surprises, some much more pleasant than others -- like life.


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