Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Last days of winter

Last days for gray winter skies,
gray sky

last days for cold frosty mornings,

last days for cool-weather vegetables,

last days for sleepy owls seeking shelter from north winds,

last days for hot apple cider,

last days for warm coats, fuzzy hats and gloves.
winter coat

I'm enjoying it while it lasts! When temperatures hit triple digits and everything's wilting this summer, what winter joys will you miss most?

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Goodbye, broccoli

I'm in week three of the annual end-of-winter garden clean-up. Salvias have been pruned, weedy grasses have been dug up and tossed, bird-planted hackberries have been cut to the ground, henbit has been pulled. Now my attention turns to the veggie garden.

Beets, baby Romaine, spinach and garlic can stay,
garden greens and garlic

but those headless broccoli plants have got to go! Time to make way for potatoes, peas and, before we know it, the Three Sisters: squash, beans and corn.
broccoli shoots

I'll leave a couple of flowering stems for the bees, then for seed.
broccoli and bee

Flowering winter vegetables are an important food source for bees between seasons.
bee on broccoli

Carol Ann Sayle at Boggy Creek Farm says broccoli leaves are edible, so this year I'm saving the small tender leaves to eat, along with the last of the side shoots. I plan to cook them like collard greens: after a quick blanch in boiling water, I'll drain, chop and sauté them in olive oil with lots of garlic and freshly ground black pepper.
broccoli leaves

The rest of it goes in the compost bin. Goodbye, broccoli, until next fall.
broccoli in compost bin

What's headed to your compost bin to make way for spring?
bolted broccoli

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - February 2014

We've had a cold winter in Central Texas this year, with several hard freezes and five (five!) school/city "inclement weather" days. 1/500ths of an inch of ice shut down the Austin metro area, after hundreds of fender-benders and multi-car pile-ups.

We've had plenty of chill hours for stone fruit, but frost-sensitive tropicals and citrus haven't fared well.
My Tahitian lime and Meyer lemon lived in a pop-up greenhouse all winter, heated with a space heater.
lemon flower

In the veggie garden, root vegetables have been slow to come in, and snap peas had few blooms and fewer peas.

Sub-freezing temps alternating with warm sunny days required frequent covering and uncovering of raised beds with frost cloth.
Stars of my winter garden are always the same: lettuce, arugula and broccoli, which have already started to bolt.
Maybe one day I'll think to plant only the stars and forget the rest.

My native and adapted landscape's late winter look is frumpy and oh so very wan.
I'm only showing you these wide shots because you're my friend.
winter wide shot

Clearly, it's time for the big pruning job - the Big Whack-Back.
Then, the weeding - Oh, the weeding! - made more challenging by the larkspur and poppy seedlings.
winter garden

Is it too late to make a New Year's resolution? More hardscape, more evergreens.
Maintaining native perennial landscapes can be back-breaking! The Big Whack-Back took two weekends.

I found one tiny bloomer underneath the brown sticks and leaves: this four-nerve daisy.
four-nerve daisy

It'll all be worth it in May. Oh, and Owly is back. Spring is just around the corner, y'all!

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Visit her February GBBD page and tell the world what's blooming in your winter garden.

Words and photos © 2009-2014 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.