Tuesday, March 2, 2010
A New Gardening Season Begins!
March has arrived and gifted us with a sunny, mild day after weeks of February's frigid desolation. March, to me, is the start of the spring gardening season in Tidewater. Although some hardy plants have bravely carried on in the winter garden, notably the Edgeworthia crysantha blooms and the early green shoots of the daffodils, the continuous cold of this year's February weather has blessed the perennials and shrubs with a solid, hibernating dormancy. Much easier on plants than our usual early roller-coaster temperatures of 60's daytime and 20's at night. The sap should only now begin rising on most of the farm plants.
Most gratifying to me is the discovery that my oakleaf lettuce varieties continued growing all winter - with temperature reaching below 10 degrees - with only a light floating row cover for protection. The leaves were freeze "burned" but the plants are fine. This will give us a nice jump on spring salads while the newly seeded lettuces and mescluns get started in the unheated greenhouse.
For those of you who are working to stay within our region for your food choices, I recommend planning for some fall salad beds that you can carry through the winter. Fresh lettuce, kale, mustards - even young collard leaves - make delicious, spicy winter salads full of good vitamins. Forget the old notions that winter greens must be types you boil into a soggy "mess of greens". Skeptical about raw greens? Check out this delicious recipe from the epicurious.com website: Kale Salad with Pinenuts, Currants and Parmesan .