The weather warmed up to more normal levels for a couple of days last week, which melted some of our snow cover. It barely thawed the ground out though, which made it slippery to walk on. I took advantage of the sunshine and wandered around with my camera, so I thought I would give a tour of how things look in the garden. I have to say I have lowered my expectations as to what might be growing, given the amount of cold weather, snow and ice we have had this winter.
First up is a peek under the cold frame cover where spinach is planted. The cold frame cover still has snow and ice on it, and is quite heavy. I lifted it just enough to get a quick look and a photo.
I think the spinach is looking pretty good, along with some henbit and chickweed. Spinach is so hardy that it almost always overwinters here when protected by a cold frame or row covers. I did start a few seedlings in case I need to fill in the beds a bit. I always like to have a backup plan! Next up is the greenhouse. I couldn’t get the door open fully because of ice on the ground, but I was able to open the top half and look inside. Things in there are on autopilot until the ice is gone. In the below photo I see some chard in the back that is still green, and some lettuce plants in front that look pretty ragged.
I think I will just replant the lettuce when I have seedlings ready, but the chard might give us a taste or two before it bolts to flower. The chard was an experiment to see how it did in the winter greenhouse environment. I wish now I had planted some kale in there too, but I didn’t. I have started some kale for a spring planting. I sure miss not having fresh kale. On the other side of the greenhouse, I see dead lettuce and a nice patch of green spinach. Not showing in the below photo are 4 parsley plants that still have edible leaves. It should keep producing too until it decides to flower come spring. Chickweed seems to be thriving as well. Perhaps our next salad might feature it! Hopefully when I can get the door open I can do some weeding and cleanup in the greenhouse.
The bare ground inside the greenhouse is deceptive. Most everywhere outside the snow is still hanging on. And it’s covered with animal tracks, including ones I recognize like raccoon, dog, cat and deer, plus a few I don’t. This winter has surely been hard on the local deer. They are not finding much to eat under these conditions.
Most of the main garden area is still snow covered too. There’s broccoli in the front of the bed in the below photo, and I’m sure it is frozen out. The kale plants behind it are still standing up, but I have no idea if they are alive. I would be surprised if they make it, but we will see. At least there are no deer tracks inside the fenced in garden. The garlic bed is well covered in snow, which should help keep it insulated. At least I hope so. The weather is due to warm up later this week, and the snow should all be gone. Then I should be able to get a better idea of how the kale is doing.
Inside the house, we have been enjoying food from the freezer and pantry. My wife took some of the frozen spinach from the freezer and made a spinach pie last week. I need to share that recipe, even though I have never made it myself and technically it is her recipe. Perhaps she will post it herself sometime (hint, hint). This batch had ricotta and mozzarella cheeses plus mushrooms and horseradish. It is a great way to use our homegrown frozen spinach.
Yesterday I used some of our Trail of Tears beans to make a batch of bean soup. I had just enough left from last year to make a nice pot of soup. I wish I had room to grow more dry beans, but I am thankful I was able to get a nice harvest of them last year.
I soaked the beans all day, then cooked them in the pressure cooker along with onions, celery, carrots and red bell pepper. Some of our garlic and a little homemade chile powder also went into the mix. These lovely black beans hold their shape well, even in the pressure cooker, and have a great flavor. I’ll be growing them again for sure.
I also used up some of our frozen grated zucchini to make a batch of Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. We have been eating these so often we are running low on frozen squash. I guess this year I will have to freeze even more squash than usual so we don’t run out. I grated a bit of dark chocolate on top of the muffin dough before baking. It was left over from making lip balm and I wanted to put it to good use before I ate it all!
And speaking of muffins, yesterday I baked a batch of Blueberry-Coconut-Macadamia Muffins. I used frozen blueberries from our bumper 2013 crop, plus some macadamia nuts we got at a farmer’s market in Hawaii. Mac nuts there are relatively inexpensive ($10/lb) so we usually bring some home for use later.
I think these are my favorite blueberry muffins. The sweet streusel topping goes well with the tart and juicy blueberries inside. Of course, the coconut and macadamia nuts kick it up a notch or two!
I hope you enjoyed a tour of the frozen gardens here in February, and a look at what we are doing with some of our 2013 harvests. To see what others are harvesting or cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.