What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we were harvesting asparagus, after an unusually mild winter and a warm March that saw record high temperatures above 80°F. This year, winter just won’t seem to quit, and the asparagus is still sleeping below ground, waiting for some sign that spring has arrived. For that matter, I’m still waiting myself, and it looks like we will have to wait at least another week for ‘normal’ spring weather to arrive.
So far this year I have harvested some greens like kale, arugula, pac choi and a little bit of lettuce. Plus I have snipped some parsley and cilantro. Last month I got almost a pound of carrots while digging a bed they were in last fall, but those are long gone. This past week saw the first spinach harvest of 2013, before the cold weather returned and the cold frames froze up again. That was a happy event that gave me a teaser of things to come eventually, whenever spring really arrives. I was also able to sow a bit more spinach seed for a spring crop.
The winter greenhouse crops got hit by a major infestation of aphids. While I don’t mind washing off a few critters, the aphids did a major number on the greens, sucking the life right out of some of them and making the rest of them too nasty to eat. I have had to be careful to keep them off of my seedlings that are out there on shelves. That has kept me from harvesting any more of the Asian greens, which are now flowering and giving the bees something for forage on the rare days when it is warm enough for them to fly (55°F or higher). It is fun to stand in the greenhouse and hear the buzzing noise of bees that are happy to find some food!
I do have some greens besides spinach that made it through the winter under the cold frames, including some Red Ursa kale. It is starting to regrow and we might get a taste of it before it starts to flower. Of course then we can enjoy the flower buds too. But most of the lettuce didn’t survive getting buried in snow that slid down off the greenhouse roof during December and January. I have more lettuce seedlings ready to be planted in the cold frame beds, once the nighttime temperatures moderate a bit. But right now they are safer waiting in flats in the greenhouse, as long as I can keep the aphids away from them.
In the meantime, we are enjoying plenty of food from our stores, from sweet potatoes and butternut squash to frozen items like soup veggies and tomatoes. The ‘usual’ time for harvesting the first asparagus is the first week of April, so it’s still a little early to expect that. Time will tell if that holds true this year, or if it’s later than that. I’m not getting the grill warmed up or melting the butter just yet though!
To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.