GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Our family has just had a wonderful small surprise from the garden, broccoli that we assumed had died, reappeared and was perfect for a quick stir-fry.
The broccoli, along with some celery, fell victim to a metre of snow that was suddenly dumped on our mountain garden in November. Since then we’ve had some thaws, more snow and while the snow depth has diminished, we didn’t expect to see plants anytime soon.
The celery was a loss, at the edge of the garden, but a broccoli tip reappeared this weekend and when I gently dug around it I found some beautifully fresh-frozen little heads.
My garden isn’t so much dormant as on pause.
Even after trimming off not-ripe and frost-damaged bits I had enough for a quick two-minute stir-fry. No additional flavours needed.
Just as I was about to go out and plant my tomatoes, before realizing I should wait for evening, a friend sent me a NY Times article about the genetics of tomatoes. Nine years of genetic research were published this week in Nature, the journal. I burst out laughing when I came to this bit:
“The tomato, though a fruit to botanists, has been decreed a vegetable by the United States Supreme Court. The verdict is not so unreasonable given that the tomato has a close cousin that is a vegetable, namely the potato.”
It’s only unreasonable if you wonder what the US Supreme Court is doing in the tomato patch.
Those of us who have been watching the Fatca Act legislation in the US have already been asking how the US can legislate for the world, but I guess the Supreme Court has set the example with the tomato.
Fatca (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) is a US law that starting in 2014 will penalize financial institutions around the world that don’t comply by revealing the accounts of US persons to the IRS and collect tax withholdings for the IRS from them.
One juicy story leads to another!
Three days of steady labour, aching bones and sore muscles: but check out that second photo! Visible weeds mostly gone, maverick potatoes, onions and garlic that we overlooked in the fall are also gone, soil is turned over and new onions, potatoes and garlic planted. We’re fairly manic about getting rid of the old potatoes, although the young, divided garlic can give us a bit of spring garlic.
The risk of disease and bugs is too great to leave last season’s vegetables. Potatoes, in particular, easily develop potato bugs if old plants are allowed to stay.
In the ground now: 1kg each of Desirée, Ratte and Agata potatoes, 70 red onions and about the same number of white, about 30 lettuce plants of four varieties. Strawberries have been divided, replanted and fresh straw put around them to keep in the moisture and keep out slugs. That’s optimism, since without rain we won’t have slugs.
Patate.ch is a nice Swiss web site, in French, for learning more about potatoes, with planting and harvest times.
Our lettuce cover is a great addition, as it allows us to put the young plants out about two weeks earlier. It provides just enough wind protection and shade to help them along.
Grow, grow, grow! The harvest starts in early July.
The garden before, a challenging sight, and after, with 2 people labouring for 3 days
We’ve had a metre or so of fresh snow, falling slow and steady. It makes the perfect blanket for my onions and garlic, happily snug on the slope, above the swing, which won’t get much use for several weeks, I think.
It’s also very good for the raspberry canes at the top of the slope, near the fence. They’re about a metre high and sudden wet snows and winds can break them. Under snow, they are well protected.
The end of a season, then the end of a year and the end of all the fine things we’ve grown during the year: for me the holidays represent the last hurrah of my garden, but it’s no cause for sadness. Quite the opposite, with unexpected treats coming indoors just as I’m feeling too housebound, and I’m reminded why I enjoy having Spring in my sightings.
Photos: 24 December, the celery is alive and well! The next day: time to harvest, out from under a foot of snow in the Alps.
Each end of year in the Alps brings its own version of the annual winter holiday surprise. At the end of 2006 I had magnificent bouquets of dried grasses and herbs to place in every room. This October, after too little sunshine and too much rain they looked like an Equatorial tribe stranded at the North Pole, weak and unhappy, so I left most of them outdoors to brown and dry with the weather.
The Christmas gift from my garden this December was unexpected food and trimmings for holiday meals.