Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fresh greens for Christmas dinner; creamed honey for breakfast

This is the first winter that I have had my two raised vegetable garden beds, so I am thrilled every time I get a harvest. For Christmas dinner I harvested one head each of three different leaf lettuces. This was more than enough for a beautiful, multi colored and textured salad for 4, with leftovers. Each lettuce harvest actually has been the thinning of the full lettuce crop: the first harvest was every other tiny head, leaving room for the remaining plants to expand. The plants from the next harvest (again, every other plant) were bigger, and so on. Each harvest thins the lettuce and leaves additional room for the remaining heads to grow. Also on Christmas day I was able to harvest the lower leaves of two different collard plants. They made an exceptionally sweet collard greens side dish. Since I got everything in late this fall, no other vegetables were ready for harvest. Honey from the two hives was a great addtion to breakfast tea and breads. My fall honey quickly crystallized to a wonderful semi-solid creamed honey: I think I may prefer it to the liquid honey from the earlier harvests.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Few immediate effects from freeze

The lettuces shown in the prior post, which were hard frozen yesterday morning, showed only dead leaf edges in the afternoon after the freeze. We will wait and see whether more damage shows up later. The fava beans were bent in half the morning of the freeze, with the tops touching the ground. By the afternoon they were starting to stand up again, as you can see from this photo. Maybe the results of the first hard freeze won't be so bad, even though it came after weeks of extra warm weather.

The bees have finally disappeared into their hive for the cold days and nights. I expect to see them regularly on warm, sunny days throughout the winter. I will keep checking the weight of both hives to try and catch low stores before they lead to winter starvation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Big drop to hard freeze

Well, last night we had a huge drop in temperatures, down from 60s and 70s to a hard freeze. Some areas of the county dipped into the low 20s. My beautiful vegetables had no time to gradually adjust to winter temperatures, so the beds were devastated. The leaf lettuces were frozen solid this morning: perfect, beautiful, hard as a rock lettuce heads. I expect to find them melted into mush by the afternoon. Here is a before frost picture from 3 days ago. I will post an after frost picture soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

December harvests

It is one week before Christmas, and my vegetable garden is bursting with leaf lettuces, kale and collards ready to harvest for our holiday dinners. Turnips, carrots, and beets are growing strong; I hope they will survive for harvesting in January and February. Fava beans are 10 inches tall. This is my first try at fava beans, but they should do well throughout the winter and be ready for spring harvest.