Realization Of The Day:
It's time to harvest everything still growing outside in the garden.
Five to nine inches of snow are predicted to fall tonight, and the rain that has been steadily coming down for about 20 hours has turned into something that crackles when it hits the windows. There are flood warnings in effect until tomorrow, and I wouldn't be surprised if our wet weather creek started flowing.
It's not the snow I'm worried about, though--it's the several nights in the single digit temperatures supposedly on their way. A heavy snowfall can actually be a friend to the cold season gardener, as the snow acts as a wonderful insulator on both the mini greenhouses and the large greenhouse. But since I can't be sure that we'll end up getting those 5 to 9 inches, I'm taking the Better Safe Than Sorry approach today rather than gambling with the goods like I usually do.
While I may be able to (for once) ignore my obsessive leave-it-in-the-ground-because-you-know-you-want-it-freshly-picked mindset, I naturally waited until the last minute to do the actual deed. I harvested the Oriental greens yesterday, but there is still half a raised bed of mixed baby lettuces and another filled with Batavian Full Heart endive, Russian Red kale, Nero di Toscana cabbage, and Swiss chard. There's the original spring planting of Nero di Toscana, too, with its larger leaves that I decided yesterday should definitely be put into some soup. I think I may leave the few struggling beets out there as an experiment. So as soon as my wet gloves and overalls hanging by the woodstove are dry, and I've finished my Tension Tamer tea, I'll be headed back outside. The ground is already turning white.
The unheated pantry will be perfect for storing all of these greens, which is good because there's no way they'll fit in the fridge. I will go ahead and take my chances in the greenhouse. Like I do each year when it gets this cold, I'll cover the arugula and Swiss chard and various flourishing herbs with floating row covers and old bedsheets, plug all the holes up the best I can, turn on the little radiator type electric heater I use out there on just such occasions, and hope that nature's insulated blanket falls before the temperature does. Everything out there (except for the rosemary) has survived previous winters just fine. One of the rosemary plants is growing in a pot, and I may move it and a few other potted herbs into the house for the next several months. Okay, yes, it's all coming back to me now. I really do think I must block out much of what goes on during the previous seasons. Either that or my memory is simply shot.
I'd by lying if I said that when the weather people start bandying about phrases like "ice pellets" and "accumulated sleet," and the wind is whipping across my wet face and my fingers are stiff with cold, the thought "I left Northern California for this?" doesn't flit briefly through my head. But then a more immediate question comes to mind: "How badly do I really want that last bit of lettuce?"
There is often great beauty to be found during these arctic blasts. Thousands of frozen water droplets glisten from every branch, and when the entire landscape is encased in ice it truly does look magical. But this is the kind of beauty I much prefer admiring from behind a pane of glass while snuggled next the fire, slurping up a cozy bowl of soup. With a fresh garden salad on the side of course.