It is almost the New Year, and the winter garden is bursting with new life. It grows more slowly at this time of year, with its shorter days and very cold nights. We have had freezing temperatures for the last couple of weeks, but still the garden grows. Seed pods burst and spread their seeds, which will spring up as the weather warms and the days lengthen. Winter root vegetables and greens provide us with hearty soups and stews. The snow peas are blooming, as are narcissus and the first of the camellias. The chickens feast on arugula and cabbage leaves, happy to have something green to nibble. Green shoots of garlic and French shallots peak through their blankets of hay. Red berries feed the birds, and dried grasses and weeds have their own special beauty.
This is the chicken’s first winter, and thus far, they are handling the weather quite well. When it’s really cold, they roost in their coop and snooze. They have not produced eggs for a few weeks now, but they deserve a rest. We spoil them with fresh greens from the garden.
Camellias are a Southern favorite, and I love them. We have ten or twelve old camellias along our driveway, and they are truly amazing when they bloom, especially because they are at their most beautiful in January and February, when most everything else is in hiding. They are romantic and rich.
The roses look a little bleak … until you look closely and see the rosebuds! It won’t be long before the hedge is in its full glory.
I am absolutely delighted to see that the seeds I planted in our Wok Garden are sprouting, despite the freezing temperatures. They must be magical! These Asian seeds are a gift from my friend, Eleanor Hoh, of Wok Star fame. Cannot wait for the bok choy and the mustard and the broccolli raab!
Red Sails lettuce is simply gorgeous and delicately delicious. It really handles the cold weather well, as you can see! I love to make a winter salad of lettuce, scallions, dried cranberries, and blue cheese crumbles, lightly dressed with olive oil and a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar. I highly recommend Red Sails lettuce for our climate.
Herbs are a great way to start your garden. They are perennial, and add year round beauty to the garden. Fresh herbs will improve your cooking tremendously, and they are very good for you. For example, thyme has natural antiseptic and antifugal properties that can treat everything from pinkeye to bronchitis! Don’t ask your doctor about it, though, because he won’t know!
Grasses add winter beauty of their own to the farm. They are fuzzy and catch the light and the breeze. Grasses are easy to grow and especially complement a cottage garden or a coastal landscape.
This broccolli will be eaten over the weekend! We will just lightly steam it or maybe stirfry it with some fragrant olive oil and garlic from the garden.
It’s wonderful to have the surprise of winter flowers like Narcissus in the garden. Plant the bulbs close to where you hang out, so that the scent carries to you. Eventually they will naturalize and spread on their own. Heavenly.
Enjoy the slower harvesting and lighter work of the winter garden. In no time, it will be time to plant for spring! Thanks for visiting Cowlick Cottage Farm, and our best wishes for a very blessed and happy New Year.