Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Winter preparations

In mid-September one of you wrote that she harvests basil all winter from her windowsill. About the same time a friend visited from Manhattan. Her 29th floor balcony garden has no bugs or birds, but tremendous wind. So she raises much of her crop in a barrel that shields it from the wind. She told me that her parsley survives until February!!! Then a super cold kills it.

Fred and I have been enjoying lettuce all winter long recently raised in my greenhouse window, but some tastes of basil and parsley sound appealing. So I found some old seeds, and sowed them profusely in the greenhouse window. In a few days I had more basil than I could imagine and in the past couple of days the parsley is following suit. I was uneasy that the parsley might have been told old to germinate, but here it is!

In earlier years our winter salad green was kale, but it's having a hard time recently. There is a hole where two kale plants were put out. I don't know why, but one day last week Fred heard a loud scream, "EEEK!" as I went out the back door. "What's the matter?!" the poor man called from the kitchen. "A woodchuck!" It left quickly, of course, and is the only one I've seen for months. I do have some kale on the opposite side of the garden from the "door," almost surrounded by basil and tomato plants, but looks like again I will have to count on lettuce for my primary winter salad green.

The Hakurei turnips have germinated where I sowed them after taking out the unsatisfying tomato plant. Would anyone be interested in trying these? I have no idea whether they will transplant, or even whether I will get a yield before the cold takes them, but my daughter assures me that the greens are worth eating even if I don't get the radish-like roots in time. I'll put them on the steps if anyone asks me to, but only then.

My youngest outdoor lettuce is almost an inch high, so it's almost time to sow the next crop. I've done this before and have harvested lettuce outside in December. One can never tell from year to year, of course.

No collards volunteered this year, which is very unusual. So I started some from seed. Some of it is doing well, but some it is being attacked by a pest MUCH smaller than a woodchuck or rabbit. I have two plants in my greenhouse window that need a new home, and I'm trying to decide whether to put them in a larger pot or plant them outside.

By mistake I put one collards plant in the corner of my cold frame. After I realized what I had done, I decided to leave it there and see if I can grow some in my other frame for collards all winter. That would be fun.

I'm doing lots of experimenting this year. It's been years that I've raised all our veggies except potatoes and onions year round, but there is clearly MUCH more to learn!


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