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winter gardening

A few years ago we enjoyed our last garden tomato with the Thanksgiving leftovers. This year tomatoes are ancient history (stupid late blight!) but that doesn't mean our garden is barren. As well as parsnips and herbs (there was no shortage of parsley for yesterday's turkey pot pie) we also have a considerable crop of greens still growing, on an experimental basis under thick row covers.

lettuce and arugula under a row-cover tunnel

in the tunnel

That there is two kinds of lettuce and some arugula; we also have kale, collard greens, and swiss chard, all of which is doing a little less well. But I just harvested a good bunch of chard this evening, having heard predictions of low-20s overnight temperatures, and if that alone is better than we've even done before for late-season greens.

It's not wholly a good thing, having vulnerable plants still in the ground at this late date. If I was like most Bedford gardeners I'd have everything all tucked in for winter and I'd be thinking about seeds for next year, instead of still worrying about freezes. I probably put in the lettuces pictured above a little too late; they didn't get big enough to harvest before it started getting cold at night, so we haven't eaten any of them so far. I think the better thing to do is to use row covers to extend the season on plants that are already harvesting: that way I'd feel like each extra day I kept them alive was just a bonus on top of what I'd already gotten. Ah well, timing is the hardest thing to learn in this business.

the garden seen from the porch: some rows mulched, some row-covered


Now if I had a proper greenhouse it'd be a different story. Even unheated, the one at Gaining Ground was maintaining temperatures that had to be in the high 80s or even 90s into the second week of November. No worrying in that case! Some day.


Kudos on the winter gardening. A little surprised you actually got swiss chard. Will have to show your post to Carla. Maybe she'll get inspired for next year.

Carla brought all of our herbs into the kitchen. I confess some misgivings about growing herbs in the kitchen. Maybe it was the snail I saw crawling across our sink or three daddy long legs flying around the ceiling of our kitchen. Anyway, with Carla's tender loving, we'll see if we can keep the herbs alive as long as possible

I've done some indoor herbs—oregano especially did well inside—but usually don't bother. Not that there's any downside... I just would rather use dried herbs in the winter than bother remembering to water more plants! We do make an exception for the rosemary, since it's an exceptional plant and might not survive outside. Everything else winters over fine outside (so far, at least).

(On a side note, flying daddy longlegs are non-standard in US usage. A fascinating connection between etymology and entomology!)

My downstairs neighbor does some indoor herbs too.

"A fascinating connection between etymology and entomology!" ... I can just see your eyes lighting up as you wrote that!

Yes indeed... and I went ahead with it even though discussion of the popular names of the insects in question isn't strictly etymology. Oh well.

And Luke, you're not going to let that go, are you?

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