Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mild winter days

Posted in Places of the Spirit yesterday:

Today and yesterday were the perfect reminder of why winters in the Southeastern U.S. can be delightful, perhaps even more so in their changing climate iteration.  Frosty mornings gave way to clear, calm, sunny afternoons, with temperatures in the mid-50°F's.

We're expecting rain tomorrow and Friday, but for now, the bright mild winter days punctuate some of the colder weather we've had, which truly, is not very extreme as I track temperatures in Le Bic, Quebec, where we'll be heading in January.

A search for "mild winter days" brought up a number of posts, more than I thought it would, actually.

It was interesting to see how many were about overwintering and growing vegetables in winter.

My vegetable gardening (and gardening in general) has been quiet in our traveling times over the last year and a half or so. And oddly, I look at the remnants of the pocket meadow/pollinator border and think about doing the final clean-up (snow battered down its "winter interest") and think, well maybe tomorrow.

Juggling two different gardens now is an equal challenge -- fast growing winter greens from February to May? -- but wait, we'll be in Ireland from late April to mid-May) -  or do I just wait to plant my beds and boxes in Quebec in late May with leafy greens?  Probably the latter, including some early cool season transplants in my beds here in February.

The beds were ready in this photo from February 3, 2016.  That was one of our recent winters where dramatic cold snaps froze out everything, providing clear planting spaces....

ready to plant, February, 2016

The first post listed in my "mild winter days" search (based on relevance) was this one:

Gardening in winter  (Natural Gardening, November 20, 2010)

In a mild winter climate, there's not much excuse for retreating indoors at the first sign of gloom.

OK, I'm as susceptible as the next normal Southern U.S. gardener to whine when we have long dark rainy days for more than two days in a row.  Hmm, are we wimpy, or what?

But what our long seasons mean is that we can grow winter vegetables (some with a bit of protection) quite well, and that we can have winter interest in our gardens from berries, bark, seed heads, dried foliage, etc. that continue our gardening season through the winter and beyond.

I was reminded of this today by an excellent article by Piet Oudolf in Fine Gardening's regular e-mail.

In the long winter days in the Netherlands, he relies on many of our North American natives for winter interest in perennial borders.  He includes plants whose fruits, seedheads, or berries are interesting to look at throughout winter.  Totally wonderful.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Memories about past recipes

I'm doing almost all of my posts now on Places of the Spirit, as I'm not doing very much gardening at the moment, but thought I'd share this post here.

It's about remembering favorite recipes from the past.

This was one from my grandmother.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Snow in the forecast

It's interesting to contemplate our forecast of sleet, ice, and snow for late tomorrow and the next couple of days.  Here in the Southeastern U.S. -- snow and ice are big-time events, especially in early December.

But, we've been busy over the last weeks preparing for our January trek to Quebec:  winter tires, check; snow gear, check; new hybrid ski-shoes, check; car serviced and examined for winter trip, check.

So we feel more or less prepared for a winter storm.  Ha, my northern winter friends won't be impressed.  But, perhaps we'll be able to "practice" in the local school's parking lot, turning into skids, etc.

We've got lots of supplies (as is usual), I'm baking bread tonight, and I did a large roast chicken for dinner (lots of extra), and broth is being made in the Instant Pot.

Thankfully, we don't need to drive anywhere, can walk to the grocery, if needed, and if the power goes out, well, we're not that far from downtown, if there's power there.

And it will be cold enough outside for all of the refrigerator things to be fine and the freezer items would be OK, with a bit of supplemental ice, I think, too.

Maybe this is preparation for our January excursion to Quebec, too; we've been trying to "embrace the cold" as my gardening companion likes to say.

A gray day and sharing produce

Since I’ve largely been posting at Places of the Spirit, I thought I’d share this latest post here.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A shell rembrance

A drawing based on a collected shell
In winter, I don't seem to have many gardening or nature posts at the moment.

My front-bed vegetable garden continues to provide herbs and a few greens, but I wasn't able to sow new greens this year to cover with my hoops and heavy "Remay" -- the quotes because I think I bought the generic version!  We returned too late in the fall to make sowing more greens a really viable option.

My hoops covered a wonderful spinach harvest two years ago, but that's not happening this year, alas.

What I've been writing about is reflections, drawings, and other things:  here was my latest post on Places of the Spirit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sharing vegetables and fruits

We had an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits to share today at the YMCA's Healthy Living Mobile Pantry distribution.  It was at Southside's Edington Center, above the Southside Community Garden where I volunteered for over 3 years.

I've not gone back to volunteering in the garden there, returning from traveling, as I know that I'm a better teacher than farm hand, and with gimpy hands -- well, I'd rather write, draw, and do some gardening than use my hands for market gardening harvesting, as much fun and as rewarding as it was.

At the Y's Mobile Pantry distribution, what I love is encouraging people around vegetables and fruits.  It's such a wonderful way to connect folks with the abundance of food that we produce, often in excess.

Today, one of the items that we had to distribute were 3 lb. bags of perfect small Bartlett pears.  They came as part of a giant pallet of them -- some huge amount from an Eastern wholesale distributor through our local Manna Food Bank.

They weren't this brand (I've photo-shopped it out), but looked quite similar.

Pears are an interesting fruit: you normally buy Bartletts (and other varieties) green, and let them ripen.  Some people like them less ripe and a bit crunchy (apparently) or more ripe, and sweeter.

So they're a bit challenging for us fruit-buyers. 

I looked at the 3 lb. bag and thought, well,  I wouldn't have bought this many at a time, so no wonder the distributor and the packager is having trouble selling them to groceries.

They could be kept in the refrigerator and taken out a few at a time to ripen, I told the folks coming through.  These bags had clever packaging that wrote about ripeness in Bartletts, too.  We'll probably see more of this.  I'm thinking about buying more pears, too, if they're small like these!

We had so many other things too:  carrots, butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, apples, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, okra, lettuce, shredded cabbage, fresh berries, etc.  plus some cheddar and Brie, thanks to Trader Joe's.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

A daily post reflection

My gardening and natural history reflections haven't taken center stage recently, as I've continued to do daily posts at Places of the Spirit.

It's an interesting practice to do a daily post;  I try to write something that I'd find interesting to read again, whether it's a reflection on nature, past travels, or a current experience.

Join me there, if you're so inclined.

My post today was about daily posting;  an ordinary post;  it's all about the practice of daily writing.

Southwest Ireland coast, fall 2015