January 13, 2020

The Garden in January

Winter is a slow time in the garden, and the seasonal change of pace is nice. I've got a few things growing, and am harvesting lettuce and collard greens. On nice days, I work on jobs from our winter project list.
  • dig two more swale beds
  • cover and mulch main aisles
  • do something with that weedy corner!

Progress on these is slow going because we've had a lot of rain. Except for a few cold snaps, it's mostly been mild, with highs in the mid-40s and 50sF. But we've had cold, biting wind, which takes the enjoyment out of an otherwise nice day.

Of my list, the first new swale bed is about dug out and ready to fill with logs, branches, sticks, wood chips, compost, and soil.

The first of two hugelkulture swale beds
I'm hoping to make this winter.

I've made a start on mulching the wheelbarrow aisles too. Here's how it looked before:

Photo from "Modest Success in Controlling Wiregrass"

Here's my progress so far...

Eventually, I'll have the whole garden looking like this!

I use several layers of heavy-duty cardboard on the bottom and a thick wood chip mulch on top of that. I prefer to do this when the soil is wet from rain. The cardboard and wood chips will help keep it from drying out, and I need to retain all the moisture I can in my soil! This past summer, I had pretty good success with this method to keep wire grass at bay.

The last project on the list is doing something about "that weedy corner." Here's how it looked last August.

Except for the hoop house and winter squash in in the
background, you'd never know this was part of my garden!

Years ago this spot was my first no-till experiment, naturalized with violets. But honeysuckle and blackberry roots lurked underneath and after years of trying to conquer them they finally won. This past summer it was the weedy mess you see above. Eventually, I'll double dig more swale beds here, but for now my solution was to dig out all the roots that I could and mulch heavily with leaves.

What's growing? Not a lot. A couple months ago, I planted carrots, radishes, lettuce, and kale, but not much of that has come up yet. Garlic and multiplier onions are doing well, however.

I have garlic planted everywhere.
Here's some in the strawberry bed.

Multiplier onions

I mentioned harvesting collards.

Heading collards

These are actually from last winter! Somehow they survived the summer with very little watering and are still producing tasty greens. I expect them to bolt this year.

Lettuce with garlic and fava beans.

We're enjoying lettuce on sandwiches and in salads. The fava beans are new for me. They are a cool weather bean, so I thought I'd give them a try. They should do okay if we continue to have a mild winter. Our winters can go either way, however, so they still might get frozen out. So far so good, although I don't expect beans until next spring.

I should also be able to start adding miners lettuce and chickweed to our salads soon. The chickweed volunteers everywhere, and the miners lettuce was transplanted from a large pot the hoop house.

Volunteer miners lettuce (claytonia)

I transplanted it in clumps into one of the hoop house beds.

It's taking off well with plenty of rain and mild temps.

Also in the hoop house is a bed of Chinese cabbages. They suffered some bug damage earlier but are growing now. I trim a few leaves for salads now and then.

Chinese cabbage

Also from the hoop house are volunteer dandelions that I harvested. I dry both the greens and the roots.


I have two experimental grain patches too.

Hulless oats

The hulless oats look a little disorderly, but the seed did well. The heritage wheat, on the other hand, not so well.

Heritage wheat had poor germination.

I'll continue to plug away at my projects and enjoy nice weather while we have it.

How about you? Anything happening in your garden?

The Garden in January © January 2020


Ed said...

I wish. I'm sitting here reading this post of greenery with about a 1/2" of ice coating everything and the high for the foreseeable future expected just to top freezing today and then turn south.

Ed said...

I should mention though that up until about three days ago, it had been a mild winter here too.

Lady Locust said...

Not a thing - expecting snow today. But I may have located some frost free terra cotta pots and am thrilled at even the prospect:-)

Leigh said...

Ed, I think your winter weather is headed our way. I've gotten spoiled with no ice! But I don't suppose it could last.

Lady Locust, frost free terra cotta pots? That intrigues me. Could you explain why they're frost free? I'd be curious to know!

tpals said...

Lovely to see somewhere in the world is green, not white. :)

The Wykeham Observer said...

It is so gratifying to have it looking so neat and tidy. The lettuce bed is so beautiful. I'm interested in what you do with the dandelion after drying. I have used fresh leaves in salads which I like, but don't know what else to use them for. Soup greens? Cooked greens? Thanks for the inspiration! Phil

Leigh said...

tpals, good to hear from you! We've had so much rain lately that I'm glad it's been a mild winter so far. If one inch of rain equals ten to twelve inches of snow, we'd literally be buried in it!

Phil, like you, we eat the fresh greens if young. I hadn't thought of soup, but that's an idea. Mostly I dry them for the goats' herbal vitamin and mineral mix.

Hill Top Post said...

You have made great progress in your garden beds! I am sold on layers of cardboard beneath mulch. I noticed that our farm supply store already has this year's seed packets stocked.

Unknown said...

Nothing happening in the garden in January for me....but I am starting to think about a seed inventory and getting ready to get the first seeds started!

Mama Pea said...

What's happening in my garden? Hahahaha! It's snuggled under a good, insulating blanket of snow. But, oh my, how wonderful to see the green and growing things in your garden! I've actually had a few thoughts regarding laying out this years garden on paper, and checking to see what seeds I might need to order. I won't even be starting seeds inside for a couple/few more months up here by the Arctic Circle! ;o}

Leigh said...

Mary, thanks! Cardboard is one of my favorite mulches, because it's so effective! Next time I go to the seed store I'll have to see if they've gotten their seeds in!

Debbie, this is the perfect time of year to think seeds!

Mama Pea, lol, you're covered in snow, I know! We've had so much rain that I'm glad it isn't snow. I think snow and cold would be a huge damper on my gardening enthusiasm.

Sam I Am...... said...

Look at all your growth in your garden! We've had freezing here but then it turned mild but too late for the plants that got frozen out. I notice though that the weeds still thrive and grow! What's up with that? I love your swale beds. I remember when you did your first ones. A lot of work but worth it from what I can tell. I have done no growing this winter. Last year I grew lettuce and had good luck but this year I was not in the mindset. I need to get going though. You inspire me...especially with the wiregrass. Mine came up in the raised beds even though my "aisles" were composted and free of it (or buried evidently)...that stuff is wicked! Good luck!

Leigh said...

Sam, ins't it amazing how weeds will thrive when nothing else will! Especially the wire grass. I'm ahead of the game at present, but it will take annual maintenance, I'm sure!

Rain said...

Well let's see...the garden in my mind is thriving with lettuces, tomatoes and lots of herbs! :) No gardening for me, but my window chives are still alive! Everything looks great! Will the mulch stay in place in your rows?

Donna said...

Our garden is covered in snow. Nothing happening there for a while.

Leigh said...

Rain, lol, love that garden in your mind. :) The mulch should pretty much stay in place. Having the borders helps.

Donna, snow is good for gardens too!

Boud said...

I just made soup today, and threw in a big handful of of leftover Italian parsley. You can also make pesto with greens. And with carrots, the orange part. It's wonderful on pasta.

Sign me: waste nothing!

Leigh said...

Boud, greens/carrot pesto? Hmm. Sounds tasty. I've only made pest once, but that would be a nice change of pace for greens.

Holly said...

I'm inspired, lovely greens.

Leigh said...

Holly, thanks! I'm always delighted when we have mild enough winters to grow greens. :)