Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter experiments

I'm having several new ventures this winter. Most rewarding thus far has been the lettuce I'm raising in my kitchen greenhouse window. It tastes wonderful! I started a second crop a couple of weeks ago, and the window has an overabundance of lettuce, some tasty now and some with promise for the future.

The lettuce has germinated so well in my homemade potting soil, that I was contemplating using it in preference to the expensive potting soil, with which I have enriched Burpees in previous years. Then someone gave me a "salsa kit" with its own potting soil, which I just used to start collards and sweet-100 tomatoes. Usually I don't start collards in the winter because there are so many in the garden, but the woodchucks made them rather sparse, and this is my insurance for a decent greens March-April harvest.

Starting tomatoes in January is an activity I never did before. This time last year I "knew" that tomatoes started in January wouldn't live till maturity. However, in March Renae offered me some tomato plants, and I noticed they had "Jan. 9" scrawled on the pot. Yes, she told me, she had started them in January. They protected some of the few sugar snap pea plant to survive the woodchuck invasion last spring. So this year I'm starting tomatoes in January, intending to start more next month in case the books are right. Meanwhile, I'll put these around the circular pea climber under walls of water when they have outgrown their house-bound pots.

In today's warmer weather I dug lots of carrots. They're small this year because of being nipped repeatedly by woodchucks, but there are many of them. There was enough soft (non-frozen) soil for me to take some to put in my oven, where eventually I will bake it to make more potting soil.

The pak choi seems to be surviving these storms and cold. They look dead when it's appropriate, but in today's warmer weather they were telling me they think they have a future. They are lining my large fence to, hopefully, protect the peas next spring as their mother did a few pea plants last year.
The Chinese cabbage is as welcome as ever, not an experiment. It's good to have some old standbys to eat fresh every three dinners! The many new activities remind me that the more you learn about gardening, the more there is to learn -- like most of life.


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