Our garden had it’s ups and downs this year, not so different from any year, and as anyone who grows anything knows, there are no guarantees. But on the other hand, it’s never boring, either. For instance, the melon below- who planted it in our garden? Not us.
Mother Nature planted it, I suppose. Actually what probably happened is that at an earlier time, we bought a melon and when we cut it open to eat it, its seeds went into our compost bucket and eventually out to the compost pile. Somehow they survived and when we prepared the ground for the garden, we put soil from the compost pile into it to enrich it. Serendipitous surprise volunteers like this melon are one reason why we weed by hand (no tillers or Heaven forbid, Roundup)- one person’s “weed” is another person’s volunteer melon, or cherry tomato, or wild spinach.
I mention cherry tomatoes specifically because we had so many of them coming up here, there and everywhere, which was a very good thing because the heirloom tomatoes that I carefully chose, started indoors in peat pots and nurtured till they were old enough and strong enough to be transplanted into the garden, were all hit by the East Coast blight and died. We got very few tomatoes from them before they died but what we did get was delicious. So, after they were gone, we had our volunteer cherry tomatoes to rely on and we still had them right up to November. Hardy little guys.
What does one do in the garden, in January? Nothing. Not when the daytime temperatures are in the low 30’s and at night, it’s in the teens. Yes, we’ve actually had temperatures go down to 18 degrees. Here on this little island off the coast of North Carolina/ Virginia. January is when one goes to the freezer, where all the little cherry tomatoes that weren’t immediately eaten are residing in jars, sometimes cooked with okra and corn and onions, and pulls one out to make a soup, or salsa, or spaghetti sauce. Also in the freezer are bags of blanched green beans, wild spinach, purslane, and containers of corn and squash and pumpkin.
So that’s what one does in January (and February and March, etc)- eats what he/she produced in the previous months. Sitting by the woodstove, I peruse the seed catalogs and choose the spring garden’s denizens. And look forward to what surprises Mother Nature will choose to grant us.