Surprises in a Winter garden

snow on garden

Just another snow fall!

After several heavy snowfalls and abnormally cold temperatures, punctuated with warm spells and heavy rains, it was more than optimistic of me to be expecting anything to have survived the past five or six weeks of winter weather. But still I looked, and surprise, surprise! Several stalks of Brussels sprouts that had been overlooked in the late Fall, as well as leeks which had been mulched, were still hanging on. Amazing!

Leeks in winter

Heavily mulched leeks survived the cold quite well

A sad looking stalk of brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts in winter

They made for a great supper of sprouts au gratin and a leek and potato bake.

Dish of sprouts & dish ofleek and  potato bake

Sprouts au gratin & a leek and potato bake. Yum!

As for the chervil, well it just won’t quit. It is the most determined little herb I know. For anyone not familiar with it, it has a delicate flavour, similar to anise, that goes well with fish. My friend who grew up in Belgium uses it to make Chervil soup, a favourite from her Granny’s kitchen. Chervil has a feathery leaf and tiny white flowers which develop into deep burgundy coloured seed heads that are quite attractive.

Chervil in Winter garden

Chervil growing in January ~ one determined little herb!

This year’s array of seed packets arrived at the local farm supply store this week. We save most of our seed from year to year, ergo we save $$$. Plants are designed to reproduce and it’s easy to save seed and seeing how few seeds are in those little packets it makes so much sense. Of course this is not the time to be thinking of saving seed but soon annual seed swaps and ‘seedy’ Saturdays will be happening. Great places to get acquainted with local suppliers. Seed produced locally is more likely to thrive because it has had a chance to adapt to local  climate conditions.  It’s certainly worth checking out what’s happening close to home, especially as many of the smaller nurseries produce their own catalogs which list a broad variety of seed including many heritage varieties.

One other surprise that came with the snow was visual evidence of the numerous  visitors we’d been having; some less welcomed than others. We did have our suspicions. In fact to be honest, we pretty well knew but were choosing denial as our default position until a myriad tracks in the snow underlined the fact that rats had become regular visitors to the feed shed. Fortunately, these track-ways also indicated where best to place the traps, but never in the same place twice. Rats are very, very smart. This much we have learnt. They also have a weakness for hazelnut/chocolate spread (but then don’t we all?) Seems to work better than peanut butter which seemed to work better than cheese or sardines. This best filed in ‘Information I Hope I Never Need to Use’ folder!

To end on a much more positive note: other tracks revealed that an otter had been to visit and had taken time to check out the various outside pens and shelters before spending time ‘belly-boganning’ on the front slope that leads to the beach. It was fun to imagine him/her slithering along on a self-guided tour then playing with joyful abandon as otters do, before heading off on another adventure. Snowfalls do have their advantages. Must remember this as we prepare for yet another sou’easter, due to arrive sometime tomorrow, bringing with it another 15 to 20 cms.


One response »

  1. Hi Jenni, great blog, beautiful photos. Really enjoyed reading it and even learned a little. Certainly gives me a greater appreciation for all the work you and Callum put into your garden, birds and animals. Great job.

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