This December in Middle Tennessee arrived on a fairly warm day just after about three inches of rain hit the garden over the Thanksgiving weekend. I am not complaining at all. Rain is good. Mr. Fix-it is delighted his pond is filled to the brim, the vegetable garden is healthy and hearty, and the grass is very green. Despite the weather being mild to moderate lately we have seen several hard freezes in my area.
Here is a long shot of the vegetable garden looking west. The white fabric is a frost cloth I placed over the winter crops in hopes of saving them from the freezes. And I'm pleased to say that so far it has worked. The bed to the immediate right contained tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Well, the freezes finally took those crops out for good. There is nothing left but frozen, mushy peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. I really must clean that bed up soon. Let's look at the rest of the beds shall we?
Here are the winter crops I planted from starts. There are two rows of Brussels sprouts on the left, then a row of cauliflower, then a row of red cabbage. All of these crops have come through the freezes with no problems. I do not think that we will be harvesting any crops from them tho. The reason is I planted them in the garden much too late. There is a fine line between removing the summer garden and planting the winter garden. I tend to want to hold onto the summer crops longer than I should and this is at the expense of the winter crops. I planted these starts in September but I think August is really a much better month to plant them. Duly noted for next summer's crop.
The garlic is doing quite well. I love growing garlic. It is by far the easiest winter crop to grow. Just go the grocery store, pick up a box of garlic, come home and separate the cloves, then stick the cloves (rounded end down) about 1-2" into prepared soil and sit back and wait. These garlic heads will be ready for harvest sometime late May or into June of next year. I'll know when they are ready when the foliage begins to yellow. They are heavy feeders so make sure you add some fertilizer along with compost.
The strawberry bed is evergreen so it reduces the erosion effect the punishing winter rains seem to have on bare soils.
The herb garden has a bunch of pretty little pansies mixed in with the parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme. I am able to pick fresh herbs when needed. Plus, when it is warm enough and the honeybees can fly they love the pansies.
This bed is leftover from the summer crop. In the left corner the greenery of long past carrots provides some color. I can still harvest the carrots but have to cull the ones that are just too woody. This entire bed needs to be turned and amended in preparation for next springs crops. I like to prepare my beds in the fall but other duties have taken precedence this year.
Now this bed is a neat bed. The oats and field peas have been hit hard by the freezes. They are whitened and mainly laying across the soil. This 'cover' prevents the winter rains from pelting the soils and helps maintain soil structure. I am hoping the cover begins to decay a bit so that I can hand til it all into the soil in preparation for next summer's tomato crop. So far I am really liking using a cover crop. Generally I don't need to because I keep my beds planted and/or mulched year round.
The other half of the same bed has some more winter crops growing in it. I hand seeded all of these you see here. There is lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, and kohlrabi (the gray foliaged crop). I unfortunately do not like the kind of spinach I planted but the chickens and rabbit love it so they get a good serving every day.
The radishes are pretty and quite good. They are mild at first then have a kick.
These beets are kind of interesting. I didn't even know they were beets until I looked closely at the label. They are orange and oblong like carrots. I have not yet tasted them but will do so soon.
Finally, I had to share my blanket flowers. They are still in bloom!! What a delight flowers and vegetables are in December....
in the garden....