Final winter harvest & container peas
On Monday, I decided to harvest the last of the winter vegetables that had survived the January polar vortex.
That's leeks on the top left, rutabagas on the right, and turnips along the bottom. I used them to make a hearty stew with the additions of thyme from my perennial herb garden and a few store-bought ingredients including beef chuck, beer, and spices.
While the Brussels sprouts in my garden were technically still alive, they were so badly frost damaged that there weren't really any edible parts; most of the leaves were marred with brown spots and they were still far from producing their characteristic sprouts. There was also some arugula and lettuce, but just a few tiny leaves and not even enough for a side salad. I decided to clear my raised beds for spring planting, placing the remaining (mostly-dead) plant material in the compost bin.
I think my most successful winter crop was a mixture of wheat and oat grass. Don't you agree, girls?
This container-planted cat grass mix survived the polar vortex just fine on my back porch with no protection. I just bring it into the kitchen periodically to give my kitties a treat.
Before I start my spring plantings in the raised beds, I want to monitor the weather for a few more days. It snowed on Saturday and it all melted on Sunday, leaving the soil too damp for planting on Monday. And now we've got rain in the forecast through the weekend. I can't be mad about it--we need the rain--and it's just fine to wait for spring planting since it's still early. So we'll see what next week brings us.
Yesterday, I decided to start some purple-podded snow peas in pots on my back porch. In continuing to keep an eye on the forecast, if it's expected to freeze overnight while the peas are still small, it's easy enough to bring the containers indoors and return them outside once the danger has passed. While peas are frost-hardy, growing them in containers makes them more susceptible to frost-damage because the smaller mass of soil cannot hold as much heat as the ground does. Once the peas get big enough that the vines need support, which shouldn't happen until we're seeing warmer nighttime temperatures anyway, I'll train them to grow along the porch railing.
I had just enough potting soil and pea seeds for 5 8-inch pots. Spacing the peas 2 inches apart hexagonally (as opposed to a square grid spacing), I was able to fit 14 peas per pot.