I’ve chosen a spot for my winter garden box. Today I cleared away the weeds and the marigold bushes that died with the frost last week. The brick wall of our house is facing south. It will absorb the heat during the day and help to retain the heat at night when needed. I also already have a drip hose running through there. I left the strawberries for now but I’ll probably move them because I plan to throw some more dirt on the area.
Mr. Nathan Vannette gave an information packed lecture about best practices here in the Upstate of South Carolina for keeping a garden going year round. Now, I have to confess I was a little disappointed, but that’s because I have a tomato growing in my kitchen right now, and I thought I was going to leave the class with what I needed to plant that baby and get some tomatoes this winter. Well, that turns out to be more fantasy than reality for now. That’s because Mr. Vannette ever-so-politely informed me that I would need a grow light to get any tomatoes at all, cuz there’s just not enough hours of light around here. A fully constructed greenhouse with a grow light is not in the cards right now, but maybe an LED light in my kitchen?
I don’t know if my plants in my greenhouse died because they got too dry in the daytime, or if it was because there’s a hole in the plastic at the bottom, or if there is too much air coming up from underneath the deck and I should seal that off, or if I should have watered them even more. I have got to learn the right moves.
My garden draws me into its minute details derails my attempts to prevail with straight lines or orderly arrangements, continually demanding my engagement. The weeds are overgrown into the path again. The bees, butterflies, biting ants demonstrate business just like me, finding sustenance in the flowers until their last hours. The dragon breathes her last gusts of fire into the approaching winter. She will hibernate with the first frost and I too will curl up and dream.
Last year I successfully grew garlic from a garlic bulb that I bought at the supermarket. That went so well that I decided to up my game this year and start off with some heirloom garlic, something that I can’t just buy at the grocery store. So I bought two varieties from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. That wasn’t cheap, but I reasoned that I would only have to buy it once. I could save some from this year’s crop for next year.
I wanted to wait. I was hoping I could let these tomatoes grow another week or two. But I was afraid of losing them. That’s the way it goes. If I’m lucky I’ll be slicing my last red tomato for a Thanksgiving salad.
It’s the time of year here in Greenville SC when the temperature fluctuates wildly between a high that can reach the eighties to a low in the thirties at night. Yesterday for Halloween we had a deluge of rain that brought with it a warm tropical wind, and we had a high of seventy nine degrees. But I have been anxiously looking at multiple sources for weather reports. I knew that the temperature was going to plummet last night, but of course not to the exact degree. So yesterday I brought my hibiscus and gardenia pots inside, where they will stay until the freeze has passed in spring. Since the temperature dipped to thirty nine degrees last night, I did the right thing. The hibiscus plants are not hardy below forty degrees.
The annual ritual of moving my potted plants has gotten to be a bigger chore than it used to be. I also brought in one of my avocado trees, and a potted amaryllis that I couldn’t find a spot for in my house last fall. At this point I have used up about all the space that I have in the sunny portion of our living room. I also brought in one of my pots that has both a tomato starter and a celery starter, both only a few weeks old. I put that one in the kitchen window, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do when that tomato vine starts spreading out a bit. I might experiment with keeping it clipped, (sort of like a tomato bonsai?) and see if I can coax a tomato or two from it that way. I squeezed the amaryllis into the guest room window, which already has an avocado tree, a large gardenia, and a bamboo plant that is almost ten years old now.