Seeing as how some of last week’s overnight lows fell into the teens,* we covered many of the garden beds with straw. To be honest, this was a weak precaution and we figured most of the vegetables would go on a good way towards freezing to death and some of them did. Most of the merlot lettuce, which was well-established and had been producing since mid-September, wilted badly after the fifth consecutive day of frost and daytime highs in the 20s and is pretty well gone by now. The frigidity also had its way with the beets and mustard greens. We don’t have any cold frames in place yet and so out of curiosity/lazy resourcefulness, and knowing that kale and leeks are the hardy type, I threw up a makeshift sort of hoop house over one of the beds in the backyard reusing an old plastic painting dropcloth and 1x3s. Even though it seemed to bring the temperature up a tad inside, the small plants stalled, cold licking at the thin plastic tarp all night and their soil frozen solid. There wasn’t any reason it should work and sure enough, it did not. In this first year of its establishment, it’d be half right to say we’re coaxing the garden on through the end of fall. But it’d be half wrong, too. We’re working at it, watching closely, breath swirling and mingling in the night, seeing which stems and leaves buckle before winter. Looking for that, we’ve seen garlic and shallots and onions carry on undaunted. There’s arugula, spinach, Redbor kale, and leaf lettuce that froze stiff for days and then came through the spell just fine. With that last evening, five nights before the winter solstice, behold: a fresh salad from the garden.
*The coldest was a streak of 22, 19, 24, 15, 12, 14 from December 4 – 9; not cold by any real standard, other than that of the temperate Pacific Northwest, where if even a dusting of snow sputters out of the fog, a lot of folks cry wolf and about shut the city down.