Saturday, November 19, 2011

 It sure feels like winter out there today! Clear morning that is quickly melting a heavy frost that was so sparkly & pretty when I first got up. Am very glad I got outside last week to do a few things in the gardens!

 I'm so glad my mom introduced me to calendula a few years ago! There are a wonderfully hardy plant & situated in the right spot, will continue to bloom through-out the year. Yes, I've had them blooming right through December & January up on my deck where they get lots of heat from the winter sun.

I've let them go to seed & while the birds have been feasting on seeds lately, I think I will have lots of new seedlings popping up all over the place next spring. The petals are a great addition to spring salads.

 We also remembered to cut back our gunnera - finally. After a few light frosts, the leaves were starting to look a little worse for wear, so we hauled out the large pruners & cut them back. This particular plant had only about 6 leaves, but a few of them spanned 5 feet across!

We covered the crown with the the leaves, which will protect them from the heavy frosts & any snow that we might get this winter (it's predicted to be a cold & snowy one on the coast!). In the spring, we'll remove what's left of the leaves & see our monster plants sprout new leaves & new flowers.
 It's always fun to wander around to see if the shrubs are putting out new buds in preparation for next year's growth. I planted a lot of cuttings last summer, which the deer found & ate most of, but one variety they didn't touch - forsythia! Most of them bloomed this spring & looked like they are settling in to their new homes. In a few years they should bush out enough to actually form a hedge & then we'll be in for a wonderful treat in the spring with lots of yellow flowers!
 The greenhouse is still a nice place for me to poke my head in once in a while. I have a few herbs over-wintering in here (tarragon, lavender, rosemary) and in the raised bed, the radish are still lush & green. I doubt I'll be eating actual radish at any point this winter, but the shoots are nice to munch on & do require a bit of thinning.

I have a few marigold plants that are still blooming despite the cooler temperatures. I wonder how long they will continue? I've also been tucking a few seed heads here & there into the bed & wonder if they will sprout once the weather warms up again. I have enough seeds saved to not have to buy any for a while - another one of my favourite flowers & the deer don't seem to appreciate them as much as I do!
 I highly recommend investing a few pennies in primrose plants. They are available in the early spring & are such darling little plants that multiply & flower through out the year. Sure, they take a beating from a few bugs, but seem to recover quickly & add a bit of colour to otherwise empty winter beds.
 I have 2 raspberry patches - on opposite ends of the yard & while the summer crop was pitiful this year, the winter crop (yes, I get 2 harvests!) has been bountiful, big & long-term. The stellar jays have enjoyed one patch up by the house, but have left the other one pretty much alone. I might have one or 2 more picks over the next couple of weeks, but don't mind that the birds have a food source. I have lots in the freezer anyway...
This is the first year I actually remembered to get outside & 'harvest' some leaves for mulching on my veggie beds. Our neighbours - with whom we 'share' some alder trees - receive the lion's share of the leaves when they fall, so I spent a cool, sunny morning raking up many full wheelbarrow loads of leaves. I had mulched the beds with one of the last cuttings of grass & with the rain & the birds digging through looking for bugs, the grass was pretty much all gone.

I hope the leaves protect the plants still in the beds for the rest of the winter & provide some much needed nutrients before I add my compost next spring.

I have yet to identify this salad variety, but it's doing very well despite the cold weather & has a slight bitter flavour. I really should eat more of it but for some reason am going through a bit of an 'anti-salad' faze in my meal planning. I miss the spring greens....

This veggie bed looks so much better with a blanket of leaf mulch & will probably receive a few bucket-fulls of compost during the winter as my compost tumbler is full & needs to sit for a month or so before I empty it & start over again.

The pumpkin seems to enjoy it's new home & the jays will no doubt reduce it pretty quickly.


Heather said...

Have you ever thought of doing a post on you experiences with you compost tumbler. I'm considering constructing one and any input would be wonderful. Thanks I always enjoy reading your posts.

Michelle's Green Thumb said...

Thanks Heather!
I will be working with my composter in the next few weeks & will definately write something on it & share.