|Our first winter garden of kale and swiss chard.|
I love biking to our garden to harvest greens all through the winter. Living in Canada, I feel distinctly privileged to be able to do so. And while it doesn't increase our 'food security' by much (we would starve if we had to rely on it), it does allow us to grow at least a bit throughout the year.
For most of my life I lived in a growing zone more suited to snow people and skiing than to gardeners. I am talking where the season begins in late May if you are lucky, and ends in September. Or earlier.
Everything in between was frozen ground, snow, ice, and a noticeable lack of anything green. That is why I am enjoying winter gardening now that I live in the country's mildest climate on the west coast.
This winter we are taking baby steps and are starting with kale and chard, and are learning that there are benefits to gardening this time of year. First of all, there are no pests, weeds don't grow, and you don't have to water. Actually, there is not much to do at all except harvest and enjoy.
The trade-off is that things grow slowly, depending on the weather. This winter has been mild so far, and we have been harvesting greens regularly since the spring, although less as winter deepens.
|Fresh winter chard.|
While the number of things that can be grown during winter on the Pacific is reduced, there is still a pretty impressive list for off-season green thumbs. A simple green house or cold frame can expand the possibilities.
The coastal gardener can choose from parsnips, beets, turnips, leeks and carrots, that will grow through the fall and into December. Then there are winter greens like kale, spinach, chard, arugula and broadleaf cress, as well as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli that will grow through to spring.
A winter garden can keep our bodies and spirits well through the dark cold days as we wait for warmer weather and a full garden.
|Fresh kale for a green smoothy.|