To my surprise, growing vegetables in winter is easier than in summer. There aren’t as many pests, and I’ve hardly had to water them. I don’t want to jinx it by saying it out loud, but I think my little garden is a success. Here is some of my kale, Red Russian (purplish) and Lacinato (dark green).
I’ve started past vegetable gardens in my raised bed here mostly with seedlings, but these plants are mainly from seed. From front to back: Holy Basil, arugula, kale, rapini, lettuce, beets, peas. If you can fend off the slugs and snails until they get a start (thank you Sluggo and my headlamp), you are pretty much good to go. This bird netting that my brother-in-law gave me from his vineyards up in Los Gatos has warded off the deer that traipse through our yard every night (hoof prints in the gravel.) I open it during the day so the birds can visit (I learned that lesson last summer).
I had to raise it higher since the snow and sugar peas have rocketed toward the sky in recent weeks. We’ve had almost a solid month of soupy, foggy weather, which they love.
So far, we’ve mainly harvested the greens (kale, lettuces and rabini), and are waiting for everything else. Even if we didn’t get to eat some of this produce, I would still love watching it grow and bloom.
I take that back. There’s nothing like peas off the vine.
Instead of trying for perfect rows, I scatter planted my beets and threw in some lettuce seed. Seems to be working out well so far. Not sure when to pull the beets, but it’s probably time to thin them out a bit. I know the beet greens are delicious, too.
I have trouble picking things when they are so lush and beautiful. Not sure I would make a good farmer, after all. (I have been plucking the kale for my famous health smoothies.)
This rapini has been a wonder. Mine is just starting to flower and form tiny heads. I gave up on other cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower and regular brocolli, since they are hard to grow. Rapini has a slightly bitter flavor, and you can eat the blossom, stem and leaves. It’s great in the right dishes. I made this Rapini and Pasta dish from Smitten Kitchen and it was simple and scrumptous.
If you live in a place with mild winters, I would encourage you to grow some winter produce. It makes you feel like you know what you are doing! And I’ve also found that tending vegetables offers the perfect antidote to the holiday fervor.
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