December Garden Thoughts

December 2019
december garden thoughts - catalogs

The first 2020 seed catalog showed up in the mail yesterday.  To me, that always is a signal that despite the fact that we haven’t even really seen any cold weather yet, the time has come to start thinking past winter cover crops, winter garden chores, and winter weather worries.  It is time to start thinking about spring, green and growing things, and warmer weather. 

You see, gardeners are eternal optimists.  We very rarely are set back too far by a failure or a weather caused disaster or even our own bad planning decisions.  There seems to always be another season, another plan, and another opportunity.

The Beauty in the Possibilities

To me, that is the beauty of gardening.  The cycles don’t stop, and the opportunities keep coming to me.  Even now, I am always looking toward a new project, a new plant, a new technique, or a new idea to try.

Last summer, after we planted our soil garden, we had a few tomato plants left over.  I also had a grow bed in the aquaponics system in the greenhouse that was empty.  On a lark, I stuck two of the extra plants into the grow bed.

december garden thoughts - greenhouse and tomatoes

Through the Winter

The result?  We are picking Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes every day from those two plants in that grow bed in the aquaponics system.  Those two tiny plants now grow up and over the ceiling of the greenhouse and, in places, hang down, nearly to the floor.  That’s right.  We are eating fresh tomatoes from our greenhouse for Thanksgiving. 

The unlooked-for success of those two tomato plants has prompted us to plant a few others.  They struggled through the heat of the summer, but as the weather has cooled, they have begun to come on and are now setting fruit.   We are also eating chard that is growing with the tomatoes. 

New Skills

This has encouraged me to try my hand at propagating tomato plants.  We usually grow all these varieties in our soil garden.  We start these plants for our soil garden in our greenhouse in December from seeds and then transplant as early as we think safe.  This year I have been propagating cuttings from the plants growing in our greenhouse.  With a little luck, I will have some healthy tomato plants ready to put into the ground early this spring to keep our tomato harvest growing.

One other experiment seems to be yielding positive results.  After we planted our winter garlic in our soil garden we had a few bulbs left, and a friend, who was helping with the planting, plugged a few bulbs into the aquaponics grow bed in an unused corner.  The garlic is already sprouting and several inches tall.  Who would have guessed?

Looking Back

I always take some time during the winter to look back at the growing season.  We had a good year in our garden even after suffering three different hail events during the spring.  We made tomatoes, peppers, both hot and sweet, green beans, turnips, and beets.  Our peach crop was excellent and the pecan crop is looking good. 

As usual, we have plans to expand the soil garden this winter.  At least one new raised bed will be going in soon.  We are pushing to get it in, and the soil amended and filled so it will be ready to plant this spring. 

Looking Forward

We are planning upgrades to the greenhouse.  The biggest addition will be a power vent fan in one end and an evaporative cooler on the other.  We replaced the plastic this fall with a higher quality multi-ply greenhouse film with the intention of leaving the plastic on all summer and cooling the interior. 

It will be a busy winter yet.  There are the usual maintenance and upkeep in the garden, trees to prune, soil to amend, and fresh mulch to haul and spread.  The new plans will add to the busy schedule, but right now, I am going to take a few minutes, grab a fresh cup of coffee and take a look at the new seed catalog and let my mind wander to spring, warm sunny weather, and new opportunities.