Despite our daytime temperatures in the 70s, even approaching 80, our nighttime temperatures in the mid-40s determine the slowness of growth and dropping of leaves. Sleepytime in the garden. But I still love gardening more now through spring than in the heat of summer, even with its tomatoes and squash and beans and cucumbers.
The perkiness of morning’s chill softens into cool-edged warmth and bright sun requiring sunglasses but nary a sweatshirt. That wonderful rain still saturates the soil, so transplants eagerly stretch their roots into surrounding soil encouraged by nutrition provided by broken-down mulch and coffee grounds.
Only the harvestability is less than I’d like, with lettuces, bok choy, tatsoi, chards, kales and spinachs still growing larger but enabling only several-leaves-per-plant harvests – barely enough to keep us in nightly salads and stir-frys. But such crunch and flavor and color!
My husband doesn’t like cooked greens, but he does enjoy them raw in salads, so at least he’s getting their raw nutritional value. His one exception is quiche, when I use the mixture of leeks, kales, chards, and mushrooms that I cook up and freeze in 2-cup portions during the late spring and early summer. Then, when a quiche is called for, my super mix is ready. Yum!
Now that it’s almost officially winter, I still have perennials to prune back.
The trick for beginners to know when and where to cut back is three-fold.
Waiting to Prune Fruit Trees
Some of my fig and other fruit trees haven’t lost all their leaves yet, so I’ll wait to prune them back until then.
The wonderful thing for beginners about figs is that you can hack them back all the way to the base trunk, and new growth will produce lots of figs. I talk my way through pruning my figs to remind myself why I’m pruning which branches and how far back so that I’ll be more confident when I prune the less-forgiving trees like peaches and plums and apples.
Always Time for More Seeding and Transplanting
All the way through winter and spring – basically till the end of April or the beginning of May, depending on how early the intense heat settles in – is great time to sow more seeds and transplant seedlings. Especially from now through January, germination and growth is slow so you want to have as many plants growing as possible so you’ll have sufficient harvests to satisfy your family’s needs. And the coolness enables nice slow growth for extensive root systems and therefore strong plants.