Winter Turn

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Although winter may be described as the time to die, our “winter fallow” garden is still very much in action. Deep in the soil our Fava bean cover crop is working its nitrogen magic. And our cold-hearty vegetables (Kale, Bok Choi, Spinach, Turnips, Califlower) are up and at ’em providing us with an almost daily source of fresh vegetables that we serve up stir-fried with a touch of garlic — so delicious.

We’ve tucked the asparagus bed in for winter- the frilly ferns have been cut to the quick and a top dressing of composted manure has been applied. Underground the roots are resting and we are impatiently waiting for first tender sprouts of spring.

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The Cape Gooseberry can tolerate a mild frost, sadly ours looks like it took a hit. We are pruning it back, hoping this Brazilian native that was naturalized in the highlands of Peru will remember its perennial roots.

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We are reaping the rewards of our gift certificate seeds from the Seed Bank in Petaluma (Thank you Janis and Paul!) that is housed in the old Sonoma County National Bank building circa 1926. The formidable edifice is a reminder of the importance of  saving — saving money and saving seeds as security against the vagaries of the weather and unpredictable economic forces. Propagating these heirloom varieties connects us with farmers, gardeners, and seed enthusiasts who, generation after generation (all the way back to the Stone Age), have saved and passed along the hardiest (and tastiest) varieties.

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 As evidence of the largess of our garden, when asked to bring the vegetable side-dish for Christmas dinner, we presented a bountiful basket of cabbage, broccoli, summer squash, turnips, bell peppers, leeks and red chard that Richard blanched then sauteed moments before they were served. Our side-dish was not an aside – it was the star of the holiday table.

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