Abundance in the winter garden

Not since we were renting a house and gardening in a former cow pasture have we had a winter garden like this one.

Here’s one of our several cold frames, stuffed with lettuce (front) and claytonia (back). We’ve got other beautiful salad greens right now, too, including this rockin’ mache:

I tell you, it’s downright gratifying. We’ve gardened most seasons for the last decade, when we first moved to Charlottesville, and a patch o’ salad like this makes me realize how much we’ve learned in that time. Beginning and/or discouraged gardeners, take hope! Keep on planting and eventually, you’ll be rewarded.

We have learned, for example, how to build a low tunnel for our kale that won’t blow away in the winter wind:

It’s simple: use a sheet of plastic that’s big enough to be weighed down with rocks all around the perimeter; anchor those ribs into the ground with deeply sunk pieces of rebar; and lash that cross-member tightly over the top. The climate protection, plus a couple applications of Sluggo, have kept our kale safe and healthy.

We also have nice carrots and turnips right now–two crops that took many, many tries to get right.

Meanwhile, our seed catalogs have arrived and we’re dreaming big for spring. The abundance outside gives us extra confidence as we map out the vast acreage that we’ll apparently–going by the size of our seed order–be cultivating in coming months.

Anyone else curling up with the catalogs right now? What are you going to grow in 2012?

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