Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Winter Solstice and a Cold Moon Eclipse

This year's Full Cold Moon, which also happened to fall on the Winter Solstice, was also a total eclipse. Too bad I didn't get to see most of it because of clouds. What's the deal? We get all this dry weather, with not a cloud in the sky, until the one night where I don't want there to be clouds.

I heard on the weather report the other day that this has been the driest October through December since 1950. We haven't gotten significant rainfall since September. However, the weather gods might pull through for me a give me a bit of moisture this Christmas week. That would be a great gift.

This morning the sidewalks and street were all wet, so we got some rain overnight, but it wasn't enough to refill the rain barrels, so it must have not been much (I ought to get a rain gage). Still, I guess it's better than nothing, and we have more in the forecast this week.

Here's a shot of the nice and damp garden, along with my garden helper, Basil. As you can see, I'm still working on the paths and borders, but all the planting beds are all laid out.

The fava beans and lettuce are both doing well. The lettuce is almost big enough to start picking leaves. I've never grown fava beans before, so I'm not sure how long it will be before they start flowering. In the background you can see my Big Pile of Rocks. I thought it would be better to pile them up as I dig them, rather than leaving them lying around the garden and tripping on them.
I went ahead and planted my tiny onion seedlings. I thought they might do better in the garden than in the flats, but I've had trouble keeping them watered. They're so tiny that they dry out fast. I think next year I'll try direct seeding the onions rather than bothering with the hassle of transplanting them.
The peas are starting to flower and set pods even though they aren't very tall yet. I hope that's not because of water stress. I gave them a good watering with the soaker hose the other day. This is a freebie nameless pea variety I got from R.H. Shumway's after spending a certain amount on an order, so I don't know much about them, besides that they're a regular green shelling pea. I'm also growing Dwarf Grey Sugar peas I got in an online trade. This is a variety I used to grow years ago, but I somehow lost my stock of seeds, which I had been saving from year to year. I'm glad to have them back. They're an heirloom variety of snow pea with purple flowers that do very well for me.
Here's Basil saying I'm paying too much attention to these stupid plants and should be paying attention to him.
My poor broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are still trying to recover after being munched by snails when I first planted them. I hope I can still get a decent crop after this setback.
I planted the collard greens later, and the snails didn't get them. Maybe because by then it was colder and drier. Sadly, it looks like I won't have home grown collards for New Year's this year. They're still way too small. I'll have to buy some from the Farmer's Market. I need to try planting them earlier next year.
The garlic's doing great. I may have gone overboard with planting so many. I'm still getting a feel for how much garlic I need to plant to have enough to last me all year. I still have some Chet's Italian Red and Broadleaf Czech in the kitchen, but it's starting to sprout. I should probably dry or freeze it before it all sprouts.
The turnips and rutabagas are growing slowly too. I've never grown rutabagas before, but turnips are a great winter crop. I've heard they have very deep roots which help improve the soil. They taste like a cross between a potato and a radish, and do well as a potato substitute, or mixed half and half with potatoes in recipes like mashed potatoes and scalloped potatoes.
I've got some little beets coming up to. This variety is Crapaudine, which is a strange, primitive variety of beet I got in a trade. I only got a few seeds, so I might have to just let all these go to seed to get enough seeds to plant a good crop next year. I also planted some Bull's Blood beets, which I do have enough seeds for, so they'll be my eating beets this year.
And I have some carrots, which I keep trying to grow even though I never have good luck with them. I have heavy soil, which doesn't help, but I wonder if there's more to it than that. I'm going to keep trying with different varieties until I find one that works. This year I'm trying Scarlet Nantes, Sunrise Red, and Purple Dragon, which are all varieties I got in trade.
Yes, these are live jalapeno plants in December! They lost some of their leaves, and the rest are kind of yellow, but the plants are still alive. I went ahead and watered them and maybe they will survive the winter after all. I went ahead and pulled up the okra even though it wasn't quite dead yet either. It just looked so sickly and aphid-infested I thought I should put it out of its misery.
The leeks are doing well too, but I wish they'd grow faster. Leeks seem easier to grow than onions, and I'm really looking forward to eating some.
I've already started my peppers indoors since 2010 was such a lousy pepper year. I want these guys to have more of a head start in case more disasters happen. I have them on a heating mat so they'll grow better in the cool garage. My 2011 varieties are Golden Cayenne, Fish, Habanero, Lemon Drop, and Soroksari. I think that should be a good assortment, but I have a lot more varieties, so it's hard to resist the temptation to start more seeds. Next I'll need to start the tomatoes, which means deciding with tomato varieties I'll grow for 2011.
I've got more winter crops waiting to go in the garden too, like arugula, celery, kale, and chard. I had to start over with my winter crops, so I'm still planting while other gardeners and farmers in the area are already harvesting their winter greens. It would help if I had somewhere in the house to start my plants in August so they'll be in air conditioning rather than 100 degree heat, but I have such a small house that I have no idea where I could fit that in. I didn't get some seedlings going until the weather finally cooled down, which is why they're still so small.
Finally, my sweet potato cuttings are hanging on, but they don't look so good. I've been having trouble keeping them moist in the clay pots I planted them in. Maybe I should have stuck with plastic. They're growing roots, though, so they are making some progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment