Over the last few seasons I've become obsessed with growing year round. With the help of some mild winters it's been two years straight seasons with something to harvest in the garden. That's not bad for the climate in Western Pa.
Meeting kindred spirit Niki Jabbour, author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, has given me inspiration and lots of new ideas on how to keep the garden going all winter. She introduced me to tatsoi. It produces wonderful deep green leaves. Tatsoi is from the same family as cabbage and kale. It has a mild flavor, is really good for you and loves cold weather. It's the perfect choice for any winter salad.
This year I added a cold frame made out of cedar and a skylight given to me by a fellow gardener.
It's basically an unheated greenhouse out in the vegetable garden. I'm also using all sorts of other tricks to keep the cold weather plants happy.
Seeds for the lettuce above were bought on the streets of Chinatown in San Francisco a couple months ago. I couldn't read the packet, but the pictures looked like something I could grow. These plants are protected with a floating row cover laid over some 11 gauge metal wire fashioned as hoops.
There's something wonderful about picking lettuce, tatsoi, arugula and other mixed greens for salads in December and through the winter. Any of the plants making it to spring will explode in growth and will produce until the weather gets hot.
I love 'Amish Deer Tongue' lettuce (above). In the bed above it's protected by a plastic skylight and grows in consort with chickweed. Both plants are happy with a little protection and the chickweed is both mild and tasty.
I still have garlic to plant, but I'm waiting for the peas to call it quits. They are flowering and producing some pods too. I think I'm just going to have to pull them to get the last of the garlic in the ground.
The mild start to the winter has been wonderful.
Check in tomorrow to read "Chipmunks and Kale, A Terrible Combination."