December 28, 2015

The Garden in Late December

It's been so rainy for the past two months that I haven't worked in the garden as much as I usually do. But it's doing fairly well in spite of that.

Carrots & Garlic. We're getting the best carrots this year ever.
Dan added sand to the bed which seems to have helped a lot. 

Turnips - I'm harvesting both greens and roots, although the greens
are starting to die back. But they still make good goat and pig food.

On warm days my bees are out and busy gathering dandelion
pollen. The young tender leaves are good in salads too. 

Heading collards. The warm days mean other insect activity too!
I have a few beets in this bed as well, but they didn't germinate well.

Radishes are too big for us to eat, but I chop them for the goats and
feed them whole to the pigs. Goats get chopped radish greens as well.

Parsnips. These were planted late but are coming along
well. I've just started thinning and mulching the bed.

My spring planted Swiss chard is doing well. I've
trimmed back all the wire grass and will mulch well.

I enjoy having the hoop house, even though it still needs doors. I've got
kale, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, spinach, lettuce, and radishes growing.

The broccoli is starting to form heads.

As is the cabbage

In between the raised beds Dan made I'm making shallower beds and also
putting in pots. Above I have lettuce, radishes, & more cabbage planted

My first seed order of the year is for the hoop house:
mizuna, claytonia, sorrel, mache, and more lettuce,
arugula, cabbage, beets, radishes, and spinach.

Some of the above seeds are new to me thanks to Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest and The Winter Harvest Handbook. He gardens year around in Maine! I'm much farther south and have had some successful winter gardens in mild years, but not so much in an extremely cold or snowy winter. One thing I realized from reading his books is that I'm usually focusing on slow-bolting, heat- and drought-tolerant varieties. For a winter harvest, I need to focus on cold-tolerant varieties. It's a new way of thinking for this southern gardener.

That's it for my December garden tour. How about you?


Farmer Barb said...

Your garden looks awesome! I'm not really focusing on gardening now. I have Russian Kale that is still hanging in there. I have enjoyed this mild December and focused on building my spring box. My animals will have access to free flowing water year round now. I have also been road building. working on a nice slope down instead of a dead drop.

Frank and Fern said...

We only have a few carrots out in the garden that we are gradually harvesting, but most of them don't look as nice as yours. Our winter gardening is now in the greenhouse, which is a whole new learning experience. So far we have harvested one yellow squash; turnip, beet and collard greens; a variety of lettuce and spinach along with onion tops and Austrian Winter Pea greens for salads. Your winter garden looks quite productive and gives us something to shoot for, a more prolonged harvest, both inside and out.


Leigh said...

Sometimes there are so many projects that it's easy to get spread too thin in terms of time and energy. I long for the day when we have all the big, one-time projects done and we can get on to simpler day-to-day seasonal routines!

Anonymous said...

Eliot's books are great, we have the Four Season one also! :)

Leigh said...

And I have greenhouse gardening to look forward to someday. :) Sounds like yours is a success so far, which is encouraging for the rest of us!

Leigh said...

Pam, it was blog readers who first suggested his books to me. Great recommendation!

Bag End Gardener said...

Impressed with, and a tad envious of, your hoop house. Even a little protection can make so much difference.

Leigh said...

Well, we really haven't had the brunt of winter yet, to test its limits. But I figure if a guy in Maine can make a go of it, it's definitely doable. :)

Renee Nefe said...

Your hoop house makes me want one so bad. :D love your garden.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

All the things you are growing are so great! Because we have rain and sleet and cold I forget that others have a little better weather! Nancy

Ann said...

I'm just a little further south than you, Northeast Georgia. You are correct, the weather has been mild, extremely mild. I'm growing 2 varieties of lettuce, spinach and garlic right now. We're focusing on fencing and clearing more land this winter, cause I don't like to do that sort of work in the summer, heat and snakes are not my friends!

Leigh said...

Any chance your DH will agree?

Leigh said...

Yes, it's interesting to read about the weather elsewhere. We have had way too much rain but very little cold! I fear that will be here all too soon.

Leigh said...

Oh yes, winter is a much better time for doing things like that! We have more fencing to do this winter as well. At least I hope we can get to it. There's so much to do!

Chris said...

You should be real proud of those carrots, and of the hoop house. Highly productive areas. Nice to see as the growing season starts to wane for you guys. Looking forward to seeing how long you can grow in it for.

Fiona said...

With the move this summer we are just starting to develope a feel for the farm, we do have 4 rows of garlic in and Ralph is working straw into the soil so it has time to decompose....well I should say he was amending the soil until the insane rain of late. The land is so saturated it is spongy everywhere.

Leigh said...

Yes, so far so good, but the temperatures have been quite balmy so far, so I'm wondering what will happen when true cold strikes! Still, it's encouraging. :)

Leigh said...

Spongy is a good word for it; we've got the same condition. I've begun to wonder what plants look like when they die of waterlog.

You're just getting started but you're doing the logical things! Feeding the soil always pays off. With all the moisture in it, the straw will decompose pretty quickly, I should think.

Sandy Livesay said...


December veggies, love it!!! I still have a volunteer cabbage plant, and a large mound of celery just growing like crazy.

Looking forward to starting seeds in the greenhouse the end of January, and planting seedlings outdoors come spring.

Right now we have snow and some ice, not much to be done in the garden outside for now.

Leigh said...

Is that the same celery you started from bottoms from the bunches from the grocery store? I tried to get some started that way. It rooted so I transplanted it into the hoop house. For some reason after that it just died. Disappointing, but I'd like to try again. Here's hoping you get nicer weather soon.

Mark said...

Hi Leigh. Love your winter garden!! It gets too cold here (most years) for real year-round gardening, but we could dramatically lengthen our season. A hoop-house like that is on the list of things to do, but there's a lengthy list of projects ahead of it, so don't look for hoop-house post on my blog anytime soon!

Leigh said...

Mark, the hoop house was on our to-do list for about 4 years. :)