Maybe I’m stubborn. Or maybe I have to try a different variety of tomato to grow in winter. I’m going to go with the second thought for the time being. It seems obvious, though, that my Cherokee Purple heirloom variety is not exactly thriving in my kitchen this winter, not even with a grow light. At six in the morning it is bathed in light while it is still dark outside. From a distance it looks really discouraging, and maybe time to scrap the idea as not worth the electric bill for the twelve hours of artificial light that I am bestowing on my tomato, (a celery too.)
But! I haven’t given up yet, because if you look closely, the growth at the bottom looks new and healthy.
At this rate, though, I will be having spring tomatoes, not winter ones. This is what I call learning by doing, as opposed to fantasizing about fat, juicy tomatoes greeting my in my kitchen in the middle of February….
I had a happy surprise, seeing two bulbs blooming in my kitchen garden. They are both some variety of daffodil. Since they looked lonely out there, in two different beds, I brought them together in our bedroom. I’m on vacation until January 6, 2020. Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.
Recently, I started a local homesteading group on NextDoor. My goal is to connect with and learn from other people gardening in the same conditions that I am. I can tell you that in the couple of weeks that the group has existed, I have learned new things already. I asked the group what winter gardening they were doing. A member told me that she wanted to enlarge her Back to Eden garden. I didn’t know what she meant by that. She explained that she had to do very little weeding or watering, and she had learned how to do it by watching YouTube videos. So, intrigued, I did a little research of my own.
One day I would like to have a nice box, maybe with a used window on hinges for a lid, nestled right up against the brick wall of the house. But this winter I am happy with my hoops, a sheet of agribon, and some old planks and bricks. I thought that three hoops might be enough for one row, but that turned out not to be stable enough in the wind. So if I want to do another row I’ll have to find some more hoops.
Before I went to a winter vegetable lecture at the library, I looked at my empty garden pots as though they were reproaching me. They seemed to say that I could have found some winter pansies or something, anything, to allow them to perform their function. They are empty because I put the plants that were growing in them this summer into the ground in the west garden. But now I see those same pots as potential protectors of vulnerable crops on a freezing night. They can serve a whole other purpose just by turning them upside down…
While stepping on carefully placed stones on an errand in the garden of my hours, my eyes scour either side of the path, spotting weeds and winter chores waiting for me. Sometimes a surprise, like strawberry flowers for Christmas.
I would say that I am moving on the slow track with my winter gardening, but I am moving, and learning as I go, so it’s just as well that I don’t move too fast.
On the deck, facing south, I have a pie safe with a mini-greenhouse cover that I ordered for it with approximately the right dimensions. This morning I was happy to see a few lettuce sprouts appear. Eventually, I will move them to the garden.
It’s hard to tell you how much pleasure I get from my indoor plants during winter. I like to drink coffee and watch the sunrise with them. This photo describes my feelings better than I can in words this morning.
I have finally accepted that a tomato is not going to grow in winter, not even in a greenhouse, without some extra hours of sunlight. I am down to one tomato starter that is still alive almost half way through December. I am determined for it stay alive, and also to get a few tomatoes from it! So I bought a grow light, my first one ever.