March 12, 2015

Winter Garden Updates & Wishing for Spring

March is a classic time of year when we're itching to get back into the garden — planning, planting and generally cleaning up the yard. We're dreaming up all the grand plans we hope to achieve over the growing season, just like we were this time last year. That being said, it's still just before the official start to spring and the weather hasn't yet started to crack.

We've been enjoying a sunny week in Mexico, which only adds fuel to the fire, and when we left Richmond this past Saturday, our yard and patio were covered in ice, slush and leftover snow from these last few weeks of winter. All of our plants and bulbs were buried underneath the ice and we're hoping they make it through this last stage of cold weather. Just before the snow, we were able to capture a roundup of photos showing the current state of our "winter garden."

This is our little slice of yard in the city. We pride ourselves on growing all sorts of edible plants throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons, but winter always tends to be another story. Over the past three years of living here, we've slowly worked to add more perennials and bulk up on the plants that will survive through the colder months.

This winter, the heartier plants that have thrived include our collards, rosemary and thyme plants:

The collards were more ornamental plants for us this year, but it's been fun to watch them grow and hold on through the cooler temps. We're probably the most happy (and hopeful) with the progress of this rosemary bush we planted out front last spring:

We planted it as a starter last spring with hopes it would eventually grow into a bush, but weren't expecting it to flourish as well as it did! Here's a reminder of how it looked when we planted it last year:

Now, so long as we make it through these final weeks of winter we may just have something to work with this spring in terms of pruning. Cutting the tips of the plant in the spring, summer and fall months helps promote bushier growth on the plant. We let it be for the most part in the winter as not to let the cold seep into open open cuts.

Similarly, our little thyme planter has been hanging in there, providing fresh sprigs to garnish our winter dishes with. Since the snow, these guys have admittedly begun to brown, but we're keeping our fingers crossed this plant will also hang in there for another season:

About 4 weeks ago before the snow, we snipped a small cutting of each the rosemary and thyme for propagation inside over the next several weeks. We're ultimately hoping to be able to root and plant the cuttings this spring for even more hearty herbs around the landscape.

As you know, we're no strangers to propagation. All it takes is a fresh cutting of the green plant tip, a few plucks of leaves from the base of the cutting and a lot of patience while they ultimately take root in water:

Find full posts where we've successfully rooted both rosemary and thyme here and here.

Here's a good detail shot to show how cutting the tips from herbs will help them branch out into multiple sprigs, ultimately making a bushier, fuller plant. See how the tips of the thyme plant below fork out? That's the result of clipping the tips and forcing new growth during the warmer months:

Outside of the herbs, we've also been surprised to find a couple shoots of rogue garlic sprouting up from a large pot we keep outdoors and are starting to notice some of the deep purple leaves beginning to shoot out from our perennial horseradish planter:

One bright light this winter has been the teeny tiny green sprouts, hinting that our jonquils might return this spring.

You can read all about how we dug up and transplanted a bunch of daffodil bulbs from my grandmother's childhood home last spring in this post. Since we'd pulled and planted them in full bloom, we weren't sure if they'd return this spring — though desperately hoped they would. Seeing the little green sprouts poking up from the ground all around the areas we planted last year has been a true feeling of excitement this winter. If all goes according to plan, they will return each spring, splitting and multiplying — supplying little hints of family history and bright colors.

So that's a snapshot of where we find ourselves here in late winter. We're eager to get back in the garden and plan out a few more lasting elements of the landscape that will make it through the next winter. What about you? Do you have any tips for hearty edible perennials that last through a cold winter or have a favorite bulb you look forward to watching return each spring?

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