You've probably read my previous tales about the fall garden I planted last August (Spinach and leaf miners, Fall garden update, Fall garden still going strong). In it, I sowed the seeds for spinach, lettuce, bunching onions and carrots. I didn't know how well it would do but wanted to experiment and see what would happen in our northern climate.
We had some really chilly cold snaps a couple of times during the winter. During the first one, everything kept on growing. During the second one, the lettuce plants were toast. Yet through it all, the spinach, carrots and onions kept plodding along.
Back on Feb. 26, I reported my surprise at discovering the spinach was not only growing but it needed to be picked! I couldn't believe it. And yes, the carrots and onions were still growing.
I should mention that I wasn't sure what would happen with the carrots during the winter: would they develop a root for eating or just have foliage? But it was just an experiment so I didn't have any expectations one way or the other. During the winter, I couldn't pull them up anyway because the ground was frozen (the same applied to the onions). After looking at them today, I don't see evidence of regular roots but intend to leave them alone for, say, a month and then see what's happening underground.
Yesterday, my husband and I did some early garden preparation. I pulled off the layer of clear plastic, then the layer of floating row cover which had been on since late last summer. Not only does the spinach need picking again but some of the lettuce plants are re-sprouting from their roots!
In the top photo, you are looking at newly-sprouted red lettuce in the foreground, bunching onions a bit to the right and rear of the lettuce, carrots to the extreme right and spinach in the background. Directly to the left, there's a little close-up of the other end of the bed so you can see the 'Bordeaux' spinach better.
I decided to give the bed a good weeding -- yes, the weeds grew well over the winter, too, although they weren't too bad -- and plant more lettuce seeds. I mean, why not?! And I watered the bed well since it hasn't technically been watered since last fall... after all, it's been covered by a sheet of clear plastic all that time. That tells you how moist things stay during the cooler months.
Once I was done tending the bed, I covered it with the floating row cover once again (to keep insects away and for a little bit of frost protection) but this time, I put the plastic cover away for good . I sure hope the plants will be OK with that! (photo at right)
I fully intend to write a column about growing a fall veggie garden this summer. Don't worry, I'll give you plenty of warning so you know when to start one... if you are so inclined, that is. But I am thrilled with how well this went. I guess this means my fall garden should now be called the year-round garden, eh?