Grit Blogs > Cowlick Cottage Farm

New Year, New Life

Berries add winter color to the farm and feed the birds 
Berries add winter color to the farm and feed the birds

It is the New Year, and the winter garden is bursting with new life. It grows more slowly at this time of year, with its shorter days and very cold nights. We have had freezing temperatures for the last couple of weeks, but still the garden grows. Seed pods burst and spread their seeds, which will spring up as the weather warms and the days lengthen. Winter root vegetables and greens provide us with hearty soups and stews. The snow peas are blooming, as are narcissus and the first of the camellias. The chickens feast on arugula and cabbage leaves, happy to have something green to nibble. Green shoots of garlic and French shallots peak through their blankets of hay. Red berries feed the birds, and dried grasses and weeds have their own special beauty.

The Spice Girls and Nancy Pelosi, our rooster, enjoy a warm day The Spice Girls and Nancy Pelosi, our rooster, enjoy a warm day

This is the chickens' first winter, and thus far, they are handling the weather quite well. When it’s really cold, they roost in their coop and snooze. They have not produced eggs for a few weeks now, but they deserve a rest. We spoil them with fresh greens from the garden.

The first camellias bloom The first camellias bloom, a little late this year

Camellias are a Southern favorite, and I love them.  We have ten or twelve old camellias along our driveway, and they are truly amazing when they bloom, especially because they are at their most beautiful in January and February, when most everything else is in hiding.  They are romantic and rich.

New growth on the rose hedge. New growth on the rose hedge

The roses look a little bleak … until you look closely and see the rosebuds!  It won’t be long before the hedge is in its full glory.

Baby seedlings sprouting up in the Wok garden Baby seedlings sprouting up in the Wok Garden!

I am absolutely delighted to see that the seeds I planted in our Wok Garden are sprouting, despite the freezing temperatures.  They must be magical!  These Asian seeds are a gift from my friend, Eleanor Hoh, of Wok Star fame.  Cannot wait for the bok choy and the mustard and the broccolli raab!

Stunning and delicious Red Sails lettuce Stunning and delicious Red Sails lettuce

Red Sails lettuce is simply gorgeous and delicately delicious.  It really handles the cold weather well, as you can see!  I love to make a winter salad of lettuce, scallions, dried cranberries, and blue cheese crumbles, lightly dressed with olive oil and a splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar.  I highly recommend Red Sails lettuce for our climate.

Thyme, one of my favorite herbs Thyme ... one of my favorite herbs

Herbs are a great way to start your garden.  They are perennial, and add year round beauty to the garden.  Fresh herbs will improve your cooking tremendously, and they are very good for you.  For example, thyme has natural antiseptic and antifugal properties that can treat everything from pinkeye to bronchitis!  Don’t ask your doctor about it, though, because he won’t know!

Seed pods and grasses have their own winter beauty Seeds pods and grasses have their own winter beauty

Grasses add winter beauty of their own to the farm. They are fuzzy and catch the light and the breeze. Grasses are easy to grow and especially complement a cottage garden or a coastal landscape.

A crown of brocolli A crown of broccolli

This broccolli will be eaten over the weekend!  We will just lightly steam it or maybe stirfry it with some fragrant olive oil and garlic from the garden.

Narcissus Paper Whites scent the garden Narcissus Paper Whites scent the garden.

It’s wonderful to have the surprise of winter flowers like Narcissus in the garden.  Plant the bulbs close to where you hang out, so that the scent carries to you.  Eventually they will naturalize and spread on their own.  Heavenly.

Enjoy the slower harvesting and lighter work of the winter garden.  In no time, it will be time to plant for spring!  Thanks for visiting Cowlick Cottage Farm, and our best wishes for a very blessed and happy New Year.

carolyn binder
1/22/2011 7:28:26 AM

Good morning, Nebraska Dave: I have noticed from reading your posts that you do seem to keep quite busy. I like your idea of gardening in the basement--you'll just have to make sure it doesn't get too humid. Do you have a sunny windowsill? That might be a good start. You could plant a salad bowl garden! It's actually been cold here, too. Record cold for Tallahassee. The garden has definitely slowed down during the freezing temps, but I'm hoping it will take off as soon as it starts to warm up and the days slowly lengthen. Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for visiting.

carolyn binder
1/22/2011 7:24:06 AM

Hi Cindy: I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, and now I want some daffodils, too. I get so busy with my vegetable garden, sometimes I forget to plant flowers! But I do love them. Northern winters are quite beautiful--I grew up in Massachusetts and miss having snow days. But I don't think I could go back, as I would miss my year-round garden too much. Have a wonderful weekend.

cindy murphy
1/21/2011 11:52:24 AM

Beautiful photos, Carolyn. Winter here in Michigan is quite beautiful too...but certainly not with anything green and leafy, or flowering! Narcissus are one (of many) of my favorite flowers; I agree, their scent is heavenly. I may love winter, but daffodils in bloom is one of those things I look forward to in spring. Enjoy your weekend.

nebraska dave
1/20/2011 8:09:11 PM

@Carolyn, I am so envious of your Winter garden. I've been reading about winter gardening for my area and it's a whole lot of work. Temperatures that dip below zero and snow cover for at least two to three months makes for really difficult growing for anything without a floating hoop covering and even then additional heat would be required. I am seriously considering basement growing in the furnace room for my leafy winter greens. Just a brainstorm idea that I am rolling around in my mind. Some of those brainstorm ideas work and some don't but it keeps me busy and out of trouble. Have a great Winter garden day.