Merry New Year! Another trip around the sun, another opportunity to grow food, to improve the soil/ecosystem in your back yard, to learn about nature's ways.
The deer move into our garden spaces during the late fall, early winter. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards and kale plants get chewed to the stalks. While the sprouts can take the freezing temperatures and still be harvested, we have to get them before the deer do.
This year the deer also raided the garlic bed digging below the leaf mulch in search of food. This is the first time I've seeing this in over 20 years of growing garlic.
Every year about this time I keep a look out for antlers while walking in the woods. In this part of the world one may find both deer and moose antlers if lucky enough. I had seen a large set of deer tracks about the garden after the first snow falls. Not long afterwards we were blessed to find a “dropped” antler from a ten-point deer right in the front yard thirty feet from our front door between two apple trees.
There has been a great horned owl sounding off at night just behind the chicken coop, such a wonderful greeting. They mate this time of year. Listening to these courting conversations graces winter nights, especially when snuggled in bed. The low pitch of these large males resonates deeply in the frigid air. It is such a treat to hear the family discussions as the seasons progress.
Male Great Horned Owl Sounding Off In The Back Yard, January 13, 2022
The cold frame, which is in the hoop house, has young lettuce and spinach up that I planted in early December as well as kale that reseeded itself, transplanted collard greens and stinging nettle which is always allowed to propagate in my gardens. These will continue to develop as the sun rises higher in the sky.
Self-seeded lettuces and collards were transplanted from the main gardens earlier and offer a well-received green treat during these cold months. All this despite low temperatures of 8°F (-13°C), low angle of the sun and reduced day time sunshine due to the significant amount of cloud cover in December. As the sun gets higher in the sky these greens will begin to grow more vigorously.
Eating the food grown, harvested and stored throughout the year is a most satisfying experience. All that hard work finally to be tasted, relished, appreciated, absorbed, eaten. The energies expended now feed the grower in profound ways. There is more than nutrition at the dinner table in the plants you spent months nurturing. Potatoes are a favorite this time of year, a total nutrition package. Their color patterns express flavor, health and nutrition.
Time to think about pruning the fruit trees and berries. I have finished the raspberries and some of the blueberries. Pears, apple, grapes, elderberry, hazel nuts, black currents and peaches will be completed as the winter progresses.
Foliar spraying the fruit trees this time of year is an option. The garlic and or Jerusalem artichoke mixtures are my go-to winter sprays. I would like to spray a couple of times if I have my act together.
What a tremendous sky view we had during December with Jupiter, Saturn and Venus all visible. The sky was too cloudy around here to watch the new moon traverse these celestial bodies during the month of December. Jupiter is still in the western sky at sunset with Mercury visible for only a few evenings and only for about twenty minutes each night. I was able to see Mercury on January 14th. Venus has set in the west and will appear in the eastern sky later in the year. Saturn also gone from view in the evening sky passing in front of the sun. The sky without planets offers a beauty of its own.