Monday, January 21, 2008

The Kitchen Garden in January

This is what my ornamental kitchen garden looks like this month. I took this pic yesterday as I was working in the kitchen garden. Last December we had some frost and even some frozen fog and the kitchen garden looked like this:
The windows on my Victorian greenhouse were all covered with frost flowers but not anymore. Last week was very mild, temperatures ranging from 8 to 13 C while the average temperature for January is only 5 C. I took advantage of the mild weather and got some work done in the gardens and my kitchen garden. I didn't have to wear a winter coat, just a thick cardigan to keep me nice and warm. (Thanks to my dear friend Kylee of Our Little Acre I now know that I garden in zone 8, thanks for the link Kylee!) But before I went to work I went on a little tour to see what was happening in the veggie garden.
I found the Christmas tree there, newly planted in its pot, so that it won't grow too fast, and I hope to use it again this year for Christmas too. And then, to my delight I found these
the first snowdrops of the year. These are not the ordinary snowdrops Galanthus nivalis but Galanthus nivalis Viridapice, also known as Groenpunten = Green Points.
As you can see here the tip of the flower bud is green in this species of snowdrop, hence its nickname. This species was discovered many years ago in the Netherlands, in the provinces of North-Holland and Friesland near very old farms. There were fields full of them. Aren't they gorgeous? I got mine last year from dear friends of mine, who are both snowdrop mad aka Galanthophiles, and I'm glad to see my snowdrops are doing fine.
The winter purslane that I'd sown last autumn is doing great, as is the ruccola or rocket salad. So even in winter I have some veggies from my kitchen garden to munch.

Another thing I discovered in my kitchen garden was this, a dead vole or is it a young and very dead rat? When I went to look at it a few hours later it was gone, probably eaten by one of the many neighbourhood cats. Ewww!
Fortunately my kitchen garden had lots of much more pleasant surprises for me in store, like this
crocus about to flower

fresh chives, newly grown

Bergenia producing the first flowers of this year

and this.
Daffodils poking their noses through the soil

Yes, my kitchen garden is full of promise at the moment and fills me with hope that Spring really is on its way. I doubt that sometimes, as the days are dull and grey and mostly very gloomy as well. Here have a look for yourself.
Quite depressing, don't you agree? Last week we had skies like that all week long with hours and hours of rain, not the most cheering sight as you well can imagine. So walking around my kitchen garden and looking at all the little treasures it had in store for me, except for the dead whatsit, was very uplifting.
But enough talk, let's get to work. I cleared several beds of weeds in the kitchen garden, here's one of them but I still have a few more to do.
The trunk you see in the middle of the bed belongs to a standard white currant so that this little bed will provide me with both fruit and the veggies I will grow there soon; a very economical use of limited space.

I did some sowing as well, something which I enjoy doing. I have 2 cold frames and I used one. The cold frames are very handy to have as they will keep out the worst of the weather and during a sunny day it will get quite warm in there, just what the little seedlings will need to grow a bit faster. I grow both veggies and flowers in my cold frames.
This time I've sown some salad of the 'pick and come again' variety and some radishes, pink ones, a variety I haven't tried before, so I'm curious to see how they will do and how they will taste of course.
My ornamental kitchen garden looks like this at the moment with the now brown hedge of Fagus sylvatica I planted in February of 2005, so it is almost 3 years old and has already grown to a good height. I love it that it keeps its brown leaves all winter long until the new green leaves unfold in Spring. But I am dreaming of the day that my ornamental kitchen garden will look like this again. Won't be long now!
copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen

BTW there are still two more days to vote, see sidebar on the right, right next to the pic of the snowdrops.

I am convinced that it is better for a writer to know a little of the world remarkably well than to know a great part of the world remarkably little.
Thomas Hardy


Tracy said...

Snowdrops and daffodils on the way...Maybe spring is not so far off yet *SIGH* Happy week to you! ((HUGS))

marl1 said...

Gezellige foto van die (spits?)muis....;-))
Er gebeurt inderdaad al van alles in de tuin, maar je moet nog wel door de knietjes.... De kerstboom-recycling werkt goed, want ik doe dat ook al een paar jaar zo.
Heel mooi, die bijzondere sneeuwklokjes :-)

gintoino said...

I love pictures of your kitchen garden, everithing seems always so neat and tidy. I wish my vegetable garden would look like that ;-)
By the way, the dead animal was not a rat, it was a shrew. They are not rodents (even if they look like one) and they feed on insects, so I'm guessing they could be very helpfull creatures in a garden. We have them here too and every now and then one of my cats will catch one (I'm not very happy with them when that happens)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

A wonderful tour of your kitchen garden. Your garden is ahead of our garden since you are two zones warmer than we are. It is nice to see what we can look forward to in the near future.

Ewa said...

I really envy you...
sorry for that :)
but you know, your garden is so much ahead of my garden.
It is pretty arm lately, but I still do ot go to garden, as I feel 'it is winter at the end'.
Your kitchen garden looks great :)

jodi said...

How nice to see things that are green and growing, when we're in the arctic freeze fit today; -10 F and a wind chill of who knows what, but it is cold, no gettin' round it. It did my heart good to see those cheery little shoots coming up.

Entangled said...

It looks like spring is very near for you! Last weekend I found some self-sown coriander seedlings, but I hope they didn't freeze last night (9 F, -13 C).

I like the unusual snowdrops. I think I've seen those in catalogs here, but it seems more varieties are available in Europe than here in the US.

Poppins said...

It must be wonderful to start garden work already. Even if it is a warm winter here, it is to early to start gardening.
It is fun to see what you found in your garden - even the rat... :)

I am familary with Delft white-blue china. It is lovely! But I do not have any in my cupboard, sorry to say.

A wildlife gardener said...

First and foremost may I wish you a Happy New Year and Happy Gardening and Kitty-Blogging in 2008, dear Yolanda Elizabet :)

I have just spent a happy half-hour catching up with your posts since 17Dec07.

How clever of you to replant your Christmas tree in its pot, thereby being able to stunt its often rapid growth and, hopefully, re-use it this Christmas.

Your temps are warmer than ours what with roses, jasmine and snowdrops in bloom. Our bulbs are one inch high, barely peeping above today's blanket of snow.

I wondered if the dead furry little creature was a shrew, with its pointy nose.

The beech hedge looks great with its brown curly coat...

Your post on the interesting birds you have in the house and the garden kept me amused...but the one on the cats in the conservatory stole the biscuit! Couch champions in the making indeed :)

I also noticed that I have a screen like the one you have in the conservatory. I use mine to screen the front doors, which are made of modern stained-glass, but through which, at night, all and sundry could see into the house.

No prizes for guessing that I have voted for more post about cats. I was purring with delight at all the kitty photos in these posts :)

Annie in Austin said...

I love that kitchen garden, Yolanda - and the brown beech hedge has its own beauty in January.

Your plants of bay leaf look wonderful inside the hedge. I have it in my zone 8 garden, too, but have it in a container rather than in the ground. Do you ever have to cover it, or is the shelter of the hedge enough protection?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to January Bliss!

* Tracy: hopefully spring will come soon. Happy week to you too!

* Marl1: ach ja, een lijk in de moestuin, moet kunnen. ;-) Tis goed te weten dat kerstboom recycling goed werkt. Die groenpuntjes zijn inderdaad bijzonder, tis weer eens wat anders dan het gewone klokje.

* Gintoino: hmmm, not so sure about the neat and tidy thingy. ;-) Thanks for your help in identifying the little dead thingy! I'll google shrew and see if they have pics of them.

* Lisa: if we see that in some places on earth gardens are slowly waking up from their deep winter sleep, it gives us hope that someday our own garden will wake up too. January can be such a bleak month.

* Ewa: on days when it's around 13 C outside, it feels very much like spring, but you're right it is winter still and we have to wait and see what it will have in store for us in the next 2 months.

* Jodi: I'm glad to read that my blog cheered your gardener's heart up on such a cold winter's day.
- 10 F, brrrrrrrrr, nasty!

* Entangled, - 13 F, that's even worse than at Jodi's place. Brrrrr, I feel for you all out there in the cold!

It's not so easy for us either to get those special snowdrop varieties ( they are both rare and very expensive). I'm lucky because I have some friends who are absolutely nuts about snowdrops and very generous too as they gave me a few clumps of pretty snowdrops for my garden.

* Poppins: I felt very happy last weekend to be able to work in my garden and not be cold to the bone. Perhaps one day you will have a few pieces of Delftware in your cupboard too! You never know!

* WG: yes, in Scotland it is decidedly colder than over here. The North sea is my friend as it keeps the winters from getting too cold here. Glad you enjoyed the OUR winter garden post so much!

* Annie: the bay leaf survives the winters ( 2 so far) in my zone 8 garden without any help from me. They can stand a few degrees of frost, I think they can stand up to minus 10 C.

Have a great week, everyone!

Lis said...

Die Schneeglöckchen sehen ja ganz reizend aus, ich habe nur die ganz normalen Sorten und ein gefülltes.
Ich mag im Moment noch gar nichts im Garten machen, aber wir haben ja auch erst Januar und ich denke schon dass es nochmal kalt wird. Die Clematis müssten unbedingt geschnitten werden, vielleicht werde ich das morgen machen.
LG Lis

kate said...

I love the green point snowdrops. They are exquisite little gems. It was fun to take a tour of your kitchen garden... I liked the little bed with the white currant standard, imagining that it will be filled with some mouth-watering veggies.

I hope your week is filled with lovely surprises and thanks for lifting my thoughts beyond snow-strewn ones.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I wouldn't have guessed that you were in zone 8. For some reason I was thinking your climate was much colder than that. That does explain your little spring starters.

Even in the winter, your kitchen garden makes me sigh with sheer delight. I love it!

Birgit said...

Oh Krokusse und Schneeglöckchen! Einfach bezaubernd. Überhaupt sieht es bei Dir schon viel mehr nach Frühjahr aus als bei uns.
Aber die tote Ratte oder was es auch ist: Brrrr! Ich hoffe, Deine Pelznasen verschmähen sie. Unsere gehen an so was ja GsD nicht ran.

LG, Birgit

M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

I'm amazed to learn that we both garden in zone 8 although you winter temperatures this month and last are about the same as Austin's. And the zone map is all about cold hardiness.

But you are able to grow so many things we, Austinites, cannot because you obviously get enough cool nights to grow things like currants and raspberries and the like. And snowdrops.

Reading your blog makes me want to emigrate to the Netherlands.

lenie said...

mooi die sneeuwklokjes ...
krijg er de kriebels van want wil ook de tuin in , klussen even klaar in huis ...dus kom maar op lente ;)
morgen kalk gooien ...en die struiskip met ei zien te scoren ;))
wat heb jij al veel lof op je bolletjes ....ik moet écht de tuin eens in , als ik niet verzuip in die tuin want is érg nat !

Layanee said...

YE: It is nice to see that there is spring coming along somewhere! Very cold here right now with snow on the ground and no outside plant life in sight! Thanks for your breath of spring!

Frances said...

A very enjoyable tour. I like the way you take us along the path with you. It is easy to close our eyes and walk along listening as you point out the treasures. Thanks so much.

Frances at Faire Garden

Betty said...

Yolanda, once again I'm in awe at your gardening expertise...even in winter, your kitchen garden is interesting and the little greenery popping up here and there....

Thank you for popping in to visit with me and commenting....always a pleasure to have you come by....thanks...Betty

Nicole said...

Oh your potager/kitchen garden always makes me "green" with envy! Thanks for the cool tour. I was going to pick my first baby leaf salad for lunch on Sunday-only to discover that the arugula and radish leaves were eaten overnight-probably by a locust. The cat seems to be fond of hunting the locust, so I have to encourage him there...leaves were

Curtis said...

I love the kitchen garden. Thanks for the tour.

Kylee said...

If my garden had signs like that, I'd say spring is more than on the way, I'd say it was there already! It will be at least two months before we see that in our garden here.

I can see that you are busy in your gardens for more time than we are here since you have a longer growing season. I think I wouldn't be going crazy with wanting to be out working in the gardens like I am right now!

I just love your gardens! I do hope that someday I am able to see them in person! (There's one of those pipe dreams that Mr. McGregor's Daughter is talking about.)

theysaywordscanbleed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nikkipolani said...

A terrific post, Yolanda! i loved seeing all the new growth and progress going on in your gardens. With the new cats, I've been a little distracted from sowing seeds for salad and herbs.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all and welcome to January Bliss!

* Lis: how nice that you have the double snowdrops, wish I had those too! ;-) Good luck with cutting back your clematis, I hope its not too cold outside to do that.

* Kate: glad you enjoyed the tour of the kitchen garden. As soon as I have vegetables in that bed I will show a pic of that, especially for you. Hopefully it will live up to your imagination. ;-)

* Robin: you're not the only one, many people think that we have 3 feet of snow down here in winter but we don't. We hardly ever have any snow to speak of. I'm glad the kitchen garden filled you with delight!

* Birgit: I live close by the sea so it is not so cold over here, the warm sea water keeps the temperature from dropping too much. You garden further land inwards, so the influence of the sea is zero for you. Don't worry, no one of the Bliss team ate the little dead animal. ;-)

* MMS: I was surprised to learn that too. The climate I garden in is a temperate one, thanks to the influence of the nearby North sea. In winter the relatively warm sea water keeps the temperature from dropping too much. During summer the relatively cold seawater keeps the temperature from rising too much. In short our winters are not that cold and our summers not that warm. Days of 30 degrees C in summer are an exception here. More often we have summer days that are around 18 to 25 C. And sometimes we don't have a summer at all but go from spring right into autumn.

Oh, and before you start packing your bags to emigrate to the Netherlands; it rains a lot here, during every season of the year.
See? It's not that perfect over here either.

* Lenie: mijn tuin is ook erg nat want het heeft gisteren echt de hele dag en avond geregend, vreselijk. Hier in het zuiden toch wel ietsje warmer dan bij jou, denk ik zo. Veel geluk met de struiskip plus ei. ;-)

* Layanee: I can imagine how you enjoy seeing a bit of spring appear as your garden is still covered in snow. Never fear, your turn will come too.

* Frances: I'm glad you enjoyed the tour. I just imagine that you are all there in my garden when I write my post and that I'm showing you my garden for real.

* Betty: I try to make my garden interesting all year round and it really helps to garden in a temperate climate.

* Nicole: oh dear, there is always something to spoil the fun. Yes, encouraging your cat to hunt for locusts sounds like a great idea to me.

* Curtis: you're welcome!

* Kylee: I'm not counting my chickens yet as February often is the coldest month of the year. When it's March I'll breath a sign of relieve and declare spring officially open! ;-)
I understand what you're saying, I feel often very frustrated too that I cannot work in the garden because of the weather. The party pooper over here is the rain, not the cold.

I would love for you to come and visit me so that I can show you around the garden and introduce you to all the members of the Bliss team. And then we would go out and I would buy you a lobster dinner. ;-)

* Nikkipolani: new kitties take precedence over seed sowing in my book too. ;-)

Hillside Garden said...

Die Eisblumen an dem Gewächshausfenster sind traumhaft! Wie aus einem viktorianischen Buch! Legst du wirklich jetzt schon Samen aus? Hier ist es richtig kalt geworden, aber wir hatten ein schönes Wochenende, zwar Sturm, aber warm.


Brimstone said...

Leuk om al van alles de grond uit te zien piepen. Ik denk dat jouw tuin in Brabant 1/2 weken voorligt op die van mij in Drenthe. Maar vandaag de eerste bloeiende crocus gespot, in een bak weliswaar, maar toch.

Handig gedaan die kouwe bak, een constructie om te onthouden.

Felicia said...

Beautiful! Except for the dead creature ;(

Mary said...

Oh, how lovely! I have scrolled downa and read some of your older posts as well, and I love your conservatory, and your kitties! :) In our part of New Jersey, the deer eat everything unless you have a wall at least eight feet high, so we cannot have a kitchen garden. But touring yours has warmed my heart on this cold (27 F) day!

Salix Tree said...

I too was working in my veggie garden just 2 days ago, and yesterday and today is very wet again. Your snowdrops are a little further along than mine, can't wait to see them in bloom!

stadtgarten said...

When I see the pictures from your garden I get more and more convinced that it will soon be spring! (I really hope it!!!) I think it must be warmer in your area than in ours, I haven't seen anything what looks like the tip of a crocus until now.
I am always overwhelmed by your kitchen garden, I would also like to have one, but I fear that I don't have enough time for vegetables, as long as I have my current job.
Groetjes uit Wiesbaden, Monika

Cottage Magpie said...

It's like that here in Oregon, too. Grey and grey and grey and grey and rain. Lots and lots of rain. I love how lush and green it is, but I get reeeeaaaaallly tired of grey skies. Sigh!
~Angela :-)

Bert said...

Hi Yolanda,
Well for januari, there is growing quite a bit in your kitchen garden!
It must be a mild winter over there. Great to see what you are sowing already. Hope you keep us up to date with the development of it all.