Saturday, November 22, 2008

garden activity

Facing reality, I brought the large brighly flowering geraniums, as well as the noble evergreen rosemary plant into the potting shed and cut them all back. The geraniums are simple and clear to cut. Look at the branches and save the bright green new stems; go for the darkened old brown stems and cut them down to the base, in the process mercilessly cutting off flowers right and left. The plant looks rather small, but green and healthy at the end; by spring it will be rebounding strong and beautiful. I'm never quite sure where to cut the rosemary - I've heard to cut them back by one-third, so I kind of trim it all around after taking out a a few particularly straggly branches from the base. Also brought in a Penny Lane viola that bloomed sweetly in the speckled shade off the patio all spring and summer and again has a couple of sprightly blossoms.

Working on the garden clean-up gradually. Early in the month was another great sunny day for it, so it was a wonderful excuse to linger. Took down another trellis-netting. This one had been for the tomatillos. The vines shrivelled to dry brown leaves and slippery rotten stems here and there, but there were still some solid tomatillos to harvest. Despite the light frosts we had they're still good for salsa verde. The trellis-netting is always a bit of a pain to reuse, but I try. There was also twine to untie as Steve had tied up some of the abundant side branches. Sure I could cut the knots with a knife, but then I couldn't save the short pieces, and besides, I can get totally mesmerized untying a knot. I’ve been drawn to that activity since a child, untangling my aunt Sis’ rosary beads during church. At that time, it distracted me from the boredom of church. Untangling the trellis netting gave me a chance to be still and look up once in a while and see the bees visiting the four-petaled yellow wild arugula flowers which are the only bright color around, and time slows down. And then a little pale yellow butterfly drifted by and I followed its meandering path with my eyes until it landed in the grass. I walked over to see where it alighted and found a dandelion flower tight in the low grass, previously inconspicuous. Later when working in the potting shed, I saw four dead ones of this same kind of butterfly on the windowsill. On one side the wing is more white with a yellow border and two black smudgy spots. Maybe it's a sulphur butterfly - I'm not sure.

Towards the middle of the month, it turned much colder and has stayed that way. But even though the winter has come early, with an early snow coating the ground at Six Mile Creek, still getting some fresh greens every morning that I’m willing to venture out. The snow has still been covering the east bed where there’s some arugula, lettuce and radicchio, and I figure hopefully that I can let that go as the snow might be insulating it a bit, and I pick the other barer plants on the west side where they get a bit more sun due to the configuration of the trees. Still picking garden cress, lettuce, mustard, swiss chard, spinach, arugula, radicchio, sorrel, and winter cress, as well as sideshoots on the two Dividend broccoli plants which were set out in June. The late-planted broccoli got too late a start and is only just putting out small heads. Eventually I’ll have to face reality and pick the small immature heads before they freeze into mush.

I pick almost every morning now – as much as I can before my fingers freeze. The leaves are small now but still so healthy. All the little bits add up – it’s amazing. If I don’t get them now they might be gone tomorrow or next week. Pretty soon my only fresh greens will be the alfalfa sprouts I sprouted myself or something I buy at the store.

Steve planted the garlic a couple weeks ago and I planted a few shallot bulbs a few days ago. He covered the garlic with leaves, but they're now sprouting through the leaves! I clipped the tops and chopped them into salads etc.