Right now, outside, it’s pouring buckets, or cats and dogs–pick your analogy. The garden is overgrown, waiting for the goats, aka the grasscutters, to come in and clear. Only heirloom carrots are left, about seven rows; they handle the cold wonderfully. After they’re dug, I’ll open the gates to the goats and let them in.
In the greenhouse, Flat Leaf Italian Parsley and Rosemary are potted; other plants are started. But nothing is going gangbusters. This time of the year is a time for rest and both plants and animals seem to understand.
Poultry go into molt in fall and early winter, shedding and regrowing feathers, and older hens typically don’t lay too many eggs until after the molt and the time is right again. The birds will produce heavily in late January–as Spring gets closer.
Last Friday I dug the heirloom carrots for market and was pleased to see tons of earthworms in the soil– a good sign. The carrots were the last thing planted and then I let everything alone.
It’s important to let soils rest, and to not over till. Too many want to control every jot and tiddle of a garden but gardens don’t work that way and soil fertility over time–and nutrients in food–will benefit from a less controlled approach. I follow a simple rotational approach: root, leaf, fruit. Where carrots are this year, greens will follow. Where I planted spinach last year, tomatoes and cantaloupes will be planned for the following year–and after that, soil will be left fallow until the next season.
Regarding the carrots dug this past week, I recently heard a “Master Gardener” talk about the new approaches to root vegetables. She and the local Extension folks were suggesting that potatoes and other root crops should be grown on the ground under heavy mulch–hay. They noted that their trials were successful and the potatoes were plentiful. My first thought was this: it’s hard to find organic mulch, extremely hard, and my second was that anything that doesn’t grow slowly in soil doesn’t get the nutrient content. My third thought is that shortcuts aren’t usually a good idea in gardens.
One of the major pr0blems with today’s produce is that so much produce is engineered to grow quickly, that the minerals found in, for example, tomatoes, in 2013, are only about 50% of the minerals found in produce grown in 1940. In other words, we’re only getting 50% of the nutrient content.
Vegetables, greens and fruits get their nutrition from the soil and we get it from ingesting fruits and vegetables that are rich in mineral content. Growing produce the old-fashioned way is not as easy and as efficient as in some of the more contemporary approaches, but nutrient content is there–and that has value. Shortcuts, just as in so many areas of life, aren’t necessarily the best approach.
Thanksgiving is just a day or two away. I’ve oysters in the fridge–purchased from one of the Vendors at the Fredericksburg Farm Market, and I plan to make Fried Oyster Cakes, like my mother used to do each winter holiday. There is not much better winter eating than traditionally pan-fried oysters and greens.
Back to the seed catalogs. May all have a blessed Thanksgiving.