On the other hand, we're still enjoying the harvest from our fall and winter garden.
|Lettuce, kale, turnips, and a carrot|
And! A first ever for us....
|1st ever asparagus|
Last year I planted asparagus for the first time, about 30 plants. This is our very first sampling. We won't get much this year, because the plants still need time to establish themselves, but who could resist at least a taste? I have to say it was the best asparagus ever.
In addition there are beets, broccoli, turnips, kale, radishes, carrots, collards, and cabbage collards for the picking, though the broccoli and cabbage collards are starting to flower. I'll let some go to seed for saving, but the rest I cut back mercilessly to feed the goats. They are very hungry for something fresh this time of year and start hollering as soon as they see me coming with a basketful.
I checked the parsnips the other day and they look ready to harvest. I tried to grow parsnips last year without success. This time I didn't get a lot, so it will probably be a one or two meal deal, especially since I want to let at least one plant go to seed for saving. The variety is All American, not one usually listed in the seed catalogues. Still, since even some grew for me, it's a keeper. Besides the parsnips, I'd probably better harvest the rest of my turnips and beets as well, before they want to go to seed.
|Egyptian Walking Onions|
All the onions I planted last fall seem to be doing well. The Egyptian walkers have emerged from their winter's nap and are needing to be mulched. Only about half of the multipliers are growing however.
Last spring's onions are finally making a go of it. They were very slow to grow last year. Maybe that's how I need to do onions, plant sets and harvest a year later. Even so these point to a problem area for me, wire grass....
|Onion, strawberry, & asparagus bed, invaded by wire grass|
Last spring, I worked very hard to rescue my strawberries from wire grass that was choking them out. I transplanted over 50 plants to a new location. In keeping with my companion group gardening plan, I also planted onions and asparagus along with the strawberries. Well, that wire grass has been trying to claim a corner of my garden and it happened again.
I cannot tell you how discouraging this stuff is. It is invasive, tenacious, and impossible to get rid of. Nothing I've tried has given me the upper hand: tilling, hand weeding, deep mulch, landscape cloth, cardboard mulch. Problem is, I don't know how to learn to live with it. At the moment I'm thinking to harvest the onions, move the strawberries again (the ones that haven't been smothered to death that is), let it go until fall, and then mow the summer's growth of wire grass down. The asparagus comes up before it gets growing, so perhaps I can still get an asparagus harvest every year. How to keep the wire grass from spreading further, is another unsolved nightmare.
On the bright side....
|fall planted garlic|
I'm very pleased with my garlic. I planted nearly all of last year's harvest, nearly 100 cloves. We use a lot of garlic for both culinary and medicinal purposes, so I'm not sure even this is a year's supply. Still, we'll have some homegrown to enjoy.
|Romaine lettuces from saved seed|
Having a milder winter was great for the greens. Even my lettuces survived, though they grew very little during the coldest months. I'm thinking if I'd covered them, they might have produced fairly well.
So far this spring I've planted peas, a new to me variety of turnip, Golden Ball, and more comfrey. This comfrey is also in a different spot. Last summer I lost most of the comfrey I planted two years ago. I'm not sure if it was the wire grass that choked it out or perhaps I failed to keep the soil sweet enough, but for some reason it did not like that location. Comfrey is an important protein source for my goats as well as instant compost material. I need it to thrive.
The success of this year's winter garden, plus my experiences of the two previous winters have me thinking about year round gardening in my little corner of the world. I'm seeing that we can indeed eat fresh all winter long. Even in the colder, snowier winters, we can harvest root crops if they're well mulched. We should be eating more of that, so that I don't have to preserve as much of the summer's harvest as I have been. With a row cover or hoop house we could have greens during the colder winters as well. The heat of summer with it's annual dry spell is actually more problematic for me! How to best garden through that, is something I'm still contemplating.