The Winter Garden: Waiting

Goodbye, summer garden

Several nights of temperatures in the twenties last week blackened the remnants of my summer garden — pepper plants and a few herbs. I covered most of the area with rotted chicken manure and hay. It’s brown and flat. A pitiful sight.

Strawberries abed

Broccoli buds wait

This is a pause, a frozen moment, in which the garden doesn’t have much to say or do. If you study on it, however, you see life stirring in small ways. There are a few sturdy broccoli plants with tiny heads buried in the center, waiting for a bit of warmer weather to coax them out. They will wait until spring if necessary.

Swiss chard waits

There remain some arugula and salad greens, although I stripped much of them for a little dinner party last weekend. There are parsley plants thriving, as well as some new cilantro. The strawberry plants are buried under (what else?) straw, still green, waiting for their time. Carrots, beets, Swiss chard — all established, having grown some in the fall, now also wait. Everything waits.

Cilantro waits

Last week a friend asked me if I had ordered my spring seeds yet. I haven’t even thought about it. A few catalogues have arrived, but I will wait until well into January.

Carrots wait

Like Advent itself — the true season now passing on the Christian calendar (Christmas doesn’t start until December 25) — this is a period of gestation before the new birth, the transformation. It requires patience, and stillness, and continued watchfulness on those signs of life. Any little movement — a broccoli bud is slightly larger, the top of a carrot pops up out the ground — is cause for quiet rejoicing.

The garden is dead; long live the garden.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Winter Garden: Waiting

  1. Faith

    Do you have things like collards and kale? We’re finding that collards and kale are VERY frost-hardy. Last year we harvested our last kale on 12/28. They were frozen solid — but still good.

    Our parsley, arugula and lettuce mix are also amazingly hardy, surviving several nights with temps in the mid-20s. When we had forecasts for upper teens, we harvested what we could of them, as I don’t expect they’ll have survived that.

    At this point, we’re locked out of our garden until the snow thaws, as we realized the gates open inward, and they’re blocked by the snow. Can’t get over the 5′ fence to dig out in front of the gates… :( But we’ve still got a bunch of already-harvested onions, beets, potatoes, parsley, arugula and kale to last us a while, and if we do get a thaw, we can get in to dig up some carrots and parsnips…

    Seed catalogs are a post-holiday dream-fest. Though for some reason we’ve received a bunch of them early this year…

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