Our December Garden

Who would guess that on December 1 we have 30 different vegetables growing in our garden? That’s the Pacific Northwest for you. True, it does drizzle a lot but the overcast skies keep the warm air down here where our pretty blue borage flowers are still blooming.

I was surprised myself at how much is still growing. I had our milk cow on a lead line, letting her wander around the gardens eating foot-tall green grass and everywhere I looked, I saw something edible. 30 vegetables and herbs, two kinds of apples in the trees, a few purple grapes still on vines, two edible blossoms and three flowers blooming.

    

Heirloom lettuces in the greenhouse, purple kale and parsley are outside where they like the chill.
      
Greenhouse tomatoes, outside spotted trout lettuce hunkered close down in the ground, big healthy rosemary that stays out all winter, burgundy red radicchio.
      
Spicy orach, white onions (look at those healthy roots!), a few sweet concord grapes still hanging off the shed roof where they’re now bird food, and a little cauliflower from the patch. 
  
Celery growing in two different beds, red cabbage heads that have been visited by slugs. Not to worry, we have enough for all.
    
Can you believe we still have blue borage flowers blooming? Just in case any bees make their way outside on a sunny day! Brussel sprouts will be ready soon, and a few small beets are still going.
  
These are the last of the basil plants in the greenhouse, spindly but hey, it’s December! The next photo is our big project this week, covering our new bed with a layer of cow manure and then stacking deep piles of wet hay on top. By springtime this soil will be ready for healthy new plants. In the meantime our hens have had a fabulous time sorting through the wet hay to see how many worms they can find. 
We’ve also got sunchokes, the sweet tuber that’s kind of like a potato. As usual I overplanted this spring, and what I hadn’t harvested last winter also regrows. If you miss one and leave it in the ground, five or more will grow from that one. We probably have 400 right now and I’m getting pretty good at serving them five different ways. I have to dig a few buckets full and bring them to our local food co-op and share the bounty. 
Also found three rosebuds nearly ready to open, some winter apples that are FINALLY ready but since we have so many apples already stored in our garage, I’ll leave those for the birds to peck at all winter. 
This is winter gardening. I admit there’s not much that looks lush right now, but it’s all still growing and we can go outside and pick a fresh salad every day. 
We regularly go out and dig potatoes through the winter. This year I planted a half dozen kinds including some that are red, some white and some blue potatoes. I got these from Ronniger’s Potato Farm in Colorado. If you want to plant something EASY, get some. You can order a catalog from them and immerse yourself in the incredible variety of heirloom and unusual potatoes. Fresh potatoes taste nothing like store potatoes. And you can grow them in a garbage can or even a stack of old tires filled with hay or dirt. Really, they aren’t fussy.
The first settlers out here often planted potatoes as soon as they arrived. The potatoes loosened up the soil as they grew and in springtime the settlers had their first crop ready AND they didn’t have to do as much work to fluff up the soil to get the rest of the garden in. You really ought to try them.