The Antes Garden – January 2016
The weather continues to be a guessing contest. After an early killing frost we have experienced warmer than normal late fall temperatures. The Goschenhoppen Historians’ Christmas Market, held on December 5 and 6, occurred under clear, sunny skies with afternoon temperatures in the 50’s. So unlike the previous year with its winter-like conditions.
The Antes’ kitchen garden has also relished the warmer fall, extending the productive period of several plantings. A complete surprise was the appearance of young orach plants with their distinctive dark red leaves. These were self-seeded from this year’s plants that were left to mature for seed. The seedlings seem to be somewhat frost tolerant, which we were unsure about. A late crop of mustard greens has also newly sprouted. While the adult plants generally extend their picking season into December it is the first time we’ve seen them sprouting this late. We hope to continue harvesting their spicy leaves for our salads into the New Year.
The last plantings of buttercrunch lettuce and parsley are producing nicely in this mild fall weather and they, too, will continue healthy until truly cold weather arrives to end their season. The late-planted arugula, another salad favorite, has continued to produce handsomely and the kale, also planted quite late this year, is coming into its own. Kale’s flavor is enhanced by several heavy frosts while the arugulas’s spicy “bite” seems to be correspondingly intensified.
Brussels sprouts, another of the late fall garden producers began to mature in mid-November and we will pick the sprouts sequentially from the bottom upwards as they mature and ripen through much of the early winter, sometimes covered with fresh snow. Their close cousin, cauliflower, is not quite as tolerant of heavy frosts. We picked a number of this year’s smallish heads before Thanksgiving; at the same time we harvested most of the remaining late cabbages, both red and green. We will harvest the last of the cauliflower in mid-December.
As we clean the crop residue from a section of the garden we try to cover that section with compost and manure, allowing it to slowly integrate with the underlying soil through the winter months. Thus ends one gardening year and lays the groundwork for another. There is still activity in the garden through the winter though. It’s a good time to analyze the basic structure of the woody plants, such as the lilac and the currant, to prune them appropriately. The horseradish needs to be dug before the ground freezes deeply. If anyone wishes to make their own fresh horseradish this year contact us soon and we will arrange to meet you at the garden to dig some out. This is also a good time to get a start on the springtime chore of reshaping the raised beds where they have broken down through the growing season.
The garden is still in need of a leader with Jacquelyn’s retirement as Committee Chair after the Folk Festival. And we are always in need of new, working members to keep the year-round 18th century kitchen garden as a viable Historians’ demonstration project. If you are interested in becoming involved in some way, however limited, you can contact us at 215-234-4119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bill and Jacquelyn Daley