Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter Gardening

Many gardeners have called it quits until spring. That's okay. Some golfers have, too, and swimmers, but not squirrels. They're busy collecting nuts.

This nutty squirrel finally planted lettuces, spinach, and kale in the greenhouse today. First, I had to clean away the dead tomato plants that made the place look like a dismal, but dry, swamp. Then, I sprinkled rabbit gold here and there. Now, having placed seeds in little rows, I must remember to keep them watered. It's important to keep lettuce seeds moist until they sprout. Forgetting to water them daily leads to the failure of many lettuce plantings, and it's even more important in a greenhouse where it doesn't rain.

I'd taken advantage of a seed saver's fall sale, so now I'm looking forward to pretty lettuces, like Yugoslavian Red Butterhead, Mascara, Red Leprechaun, and Rossimo, to brighten up old green favorites such as buttercrunch, buttercos, and romaines. I'm anxious to taste Crisp Mint, which is supposed to have leaves like mint. Will it be minty in flavor as well?

Meanwhile, three (of ten) of my garden beds have pretty well settled in for winter. One of them contains ancient barley and wheat sprouts from seeds provided by the Kusa Society. Think waving fronds of grain as the Lion King roars from a cliff.

Kusa Society millet sits in buckets in our bedroom, the result of 50 seeds of each of several varieties planted in the spring. What will we do with millet? I recently tossed some into a bread recipe, for extra crunch.

Garlic sprouts rim another bed filled with organic hard red winter wheat, something that's not easy to find around here. I surfed the Internet and paid nearly as much for shipping as for the bushel of seeds. Did you know a bushel of wheat plants about 2 1/2 acres? Like free mulch from Boxerwood Gardens, that bushel has found its way into several other gardens.

"And like the sweet potato slips you bought last spring?" says Virginia.

Let me mention my 2013 sweet potato story. In 2012, I planted about 50 slips. This year, I decided to order 100. Just as my finger aimed at the final click, I noticed that for only $8 more I could get 200 slips. Certainly, $8 would make the giving away of 100 slips worthwhile. I changed my order to 200.

The instructions called for 8 bunches of 25 slips each, 4 different varieties. When they arrived, I discovered that each bunch had about 37 slips. Whoa! After planting 125, I still had more than 125 to give away. Our next door neighbor, for one, seemed pretty happy about that.

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