Marcelle St. Germain, Big Ugly
With the garden resting during the winter, our gardeners tend to take a long, well-deserved break from growing their food. But some of us just keep out of the dirt for that long. A little garden patch that’s easy to reach even in cold, snowy conditions can be a great pleasure. We have discovered, in recent years, that a little bit of attention to raised beds close to the kitchen door can yield remarkable wonders even in the winter.
It turns out to be not that complicated to grow greens vegetables provided that you get your seeds to germinate by mid-November. Or, if you already have hardy, leafy greens growing close by, to cut them back. Setting up a few hoops over the greens and having either crop cover or plastic sheeting (or both) nearby does the job in terms of protecting the veggies even in the coldest conditions. We use clothespins to tie down the coverings over the crops.
While for much of the winter the cold crops can continue to mature, the key is to keep an eye out for very cold or very warm weather. A quick trip outdoors (oftentimes with boots, a hat, and gloves) to cover up the greens will save them from freezing even on the coldest nights. A little snow cover helps a lot as it provides additional insulation for the greens.
By mid-February, it’s time once again to start picking the hardy greens for dinner. And coming up with ways to eat these greens survivors has become a favorite family challenge (along with continued mash potatoes from our admittedly very wrinkled and sprouted white potatoes and our just fine sweet potatoes and winter squash). Daughter Mary, settled back in West Virginia originally due to the pandemic but now to stay, massages our kale (who knew that was a thing?). We regularly add it to scrambled eggs or omelets from our brood of chickens. And the swiss chard has become a mainstay for rice casseroles or lentil, chicken or other soups that are still welcome during the repeated cooler snaps during the up and down weather this spring.
So while our focus is now on growing for a summer crop, remember to keep a few seeds handy for planting in October and November and you’ll have green garden pleasures in late winter 2022.