Winter gardens

January 28, 2009

Our winter garden is trudging along, although a lot more slowly than I’d like. (We got a late start on our summer garden this year, in part because I got a late start on building our raised beds; consequently, the winter garden is also running a bit behind, and our carrots and celery are still teeny-tiny.) Since the February Sunset just arrived with its detailed instructions on all the junk I’m supposed to be doing in the garden before spring arrives, I figured I should actually start doing some of it….even if it is feeling awfully wintry right now (for California, at least—we hit freezing and cracked out the mittens and scarves, which is a rarity around here!)

Teeny tiny carrots---grow, won't you!!

Teeny tiny carrots---grow, won't you!!

Here’s what’s happening in our garden right now:

  • Our fruit trees are all getting professional haircuts. The persimmons in particular had a very rough year, and we lost three large boughs to either the abundance of fruit or (more likely) the abundance of raccoons eating the abundance of fruit. (Our current raccoon tenants are a family of five—yes, that’s five!—who are now just about full-grown.) Last year I pruned all the trees myself, but that clearly didn’t work out so well! I’ll still do the fig, plum, and pluot trees on my own, but I’m leaving the big boys to the pros. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the cherries have some drought damage.
  • We bid a final farewell to the tomato and pepper plants. I left the eggplant there, since it has a new blossom—it hasn’t produced a single eggplant all season, though, so that’s probably wishful thinking. In the spring, all of these plants (or rather, their successors) are moving to their new home against our south-facing breakfast room wall in the hopes that they’ll get better sun there, and maybe produce more than a handful of fruit.
  • We’re getting a new blueberry bush and two new raspberry bushes to replace the ones that didn’t make it, and an elderflower bush so I can make elderflower syrup next summer. Yum!
  • The big vegetable bed just got a new half-inch drip irrigation system that will hopefully work better than the old quarter-inch one. While I was at it, I tested the soil, which came up as fine on potassium but not so hot on nitrogen or phosphorus, so it’s been supplemented accordingly. I’m going to try transplanting the winter crops that are there and maybe they’ll enjoy the new dirt, but we may have to sacrifice them.
Winter garden

Winter garden with old drip system


Broccoli, trying really hard

Where’s the new drip system, you ask?? I wondered the same thing myself, since I swore I snapped a photo of it….but apparently I got sidetracked along the way. Here’s what it looked like pre-install, though:

New watering system!

New watering system!

It came in a kit from Lee Valley Tools, a great gardening supply place. (They also have awesome cabinetry and other DIY supplies.) Will it work? Who knows…..but I’ll probably post occasional updates as we get into the growing season for real, since I’m determined to actually get the garden growing this year! (On the upside, the artichokes we planted right after we moved in are looking very, very happy right now….small victories!)


  1. Drip lines can turn an average gardener into a great one. Your plants will love you for installing them!

  2. My winter garden’s been struggling along too, but last week I had a pleasant surprise. I had planted several garlic cloves in our herb bed back in August and after several months had assumed that they weren’t going to grow. Then last week I was pulling out some oregano and realized that the garlic was full grown and tastes delicious. I’m really looking forward to planting for the spring and summer, but in the meantime I think I’m going to plant some turnips, which I’ve recently fallen in love with and apparently grow very quickly.

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