Monday, November 23, 2015

Gardening: Brr. And simplicity. Or something.

It's winter. Abruptly. I've been wearing a coat for weeks, but today I added a hat and gloves and long underwear and two shirts underneath a fat sweater. Winter.

I lived in California for quite some time, and back then winter was, well, absent. Most years, the tomatoes didn't finally freeze to death until sometime in January. Some years they never actually froze, they just got really depressed. All the same, this seems like an unusually abrupt change of seasons. Random chance? Global climate change? Squirrels? Nobody knows. 

This means that The Farm is mostly done for the year. The leaf lettuce, scallions, and the younger kale all look fine, and the chard isn't actually dead, but everything else has faded away. Even so, it looks much, much better than it usually does in early winter--it still strongly resembles a (sleeping) garden, rather than a weed patch. I'm trying to form a disciplined plan of clearing and soil amendment and re-planting, just an hour or two at a time, so that by spring there's a nice orderliness about it. We'll see how that ends up working out.

I notice that as it gets colder, my uncritical enthusiasm for growing everything fades, and I embrace the unprecedented idea of just growing the things that actually pay back. So what would that mean next year?
  • Blue Lake beans--mostly bush, but I want to try pole as well, because they're supposed to be much more dryfarmable.
  • Dryfarmed Early Girl tomatoes.
  • Experiment with dryfarming a couple more tomato varieties.
  • More zinnias.
  • More sunflowers.
  • More pumpkins.
  • More lettuce in winter and spring. In summer, either very small and lavishly irrigated lettuce beds, or no lettuce.
  • Keep growing the strawberries.
  • Keep the perennial herbs.
  • Add roses
It's a short list. I'm trying to see it as elegant simplicity rather than boring. Is it possible to hold to it when the seed catalogs arrive? We'll see.