I wrote up a post between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so excited to show you a quick peek of how my babies were doing! The garden produced abundantly all throughout the holidays, and I continued to give it away. I had so many holidays posts written though, I thought I’d wait until after the New Year to post this one. But the new year brought his buddy Jack Frost along for the ride…and my heart broke.
I stopped by to check and see if the string I used to tie up and protect my cauliflower still held. My gardening neighbor John struggled to cover his entire garden with plastic. Originally from West Virginia, he said it was better to be safe than sorry. It was supposed to get down to 22 degrees.
22 degrees? What?
But these were cold weather plants and no one else in the entire garden had covered anything. I helped him with the massive sheet of plastic and he helped me pick my greens and 2 of my cabbages, just for in case. It grew too dark to see what to pick. I snatched the handful of fragile spinach because if anything that wouldn’t make it.
I stopped by the next day…
John had pulled the plastic off his garden earlier that morning and it stood up and sang, lovely and green. I held my breath as I trudged through the wet ground to my plot.
My heart jumped into my throat and I couldn’t shake the waves of dread. 13 mustard greens leaned over, wilted and pathetic resembling wet plastic. Bugs landed, nibbling at them. 5 cauliflower plants peeked through dying leaves with a strange yellow glow. 9 collard plants appeared damaged with chicken pox scars but still standing. I wanted to swoop in and hug them all, and kiss them better. But I’d killed them. There was no fixing this. I stood alone in the garden under the glaring sun, and wept.
My thoughts berated me. “Look what all you wasted! Everyone knows plants can’t get through a freeze. What’s the matter with you? What, do you live on the moon? What were you thinking? Would you leave your own children in the cold without a blanket? Your husband would have known what to do. He wouldn’t have let them die. The weather channel is practically his religion. He would have read the gardening book. Why didn’t you read the book? I should have watched the Weather Channel every night. I should have paid attention that John covered his entire garden. I should have listened to my mother. I should have used a sheet. I should have known that “cold weather plants” don’t mean they can get through 22 degrees. I should have, I should have…”
The cabbage looked okay, only the outer leaves looked unhappy and discolored. Strangely, the spinach looked great. Who knew? My other two spinach plants died weeks ago. I untied each cauliflower to find a yellow dying head. Like a child in denial over a broken toy, I tied them back up in hopes they would somehow heal themselves. And just when I thought all hope was lost; I untied the leaves of the last of the cauliflower plants. It shone the right color white and wasn’t spongy. I let out a laugh. One survived. It was more robust than the others, had more leaves. “That’s my baby girl,” I told her. At least I’d have one.
(My turnips and carrots in the back yard survived, as they were underground. And my stunted collards– from lack of sunlight– made it through just fine. But we live across from the water and apparently that’s a heat trap. I had no idea. And I am extremely grateful.)
But you know, it’s okay. Chin up, Jenn. You’ll know for next year. Like John told me, “Gardening is an experiment in learning. Every year you know a little more.” I already knew things weren’t going to be perfect this year. I claimed it in my new year’s resolutions. I just didn’t think I’d lose the garden the very first week! The tears dried and I pulled out my left over seeds from the freezer to see what I can start at the end of the month for the Feb./March season to comfort myself.
Cucumber, tomato, banana peppers, lima beans, cow peas, okra, lettuce, spinach again maybe. And lots and lots of marigolds. Yellow and gold marigolds will surround us–and good food again. And the fruit didn’t freeze! It’s sweeter than ever. See, I’m feeling better already. It’s going to be okay. Or as my therapist used to say, “It IS okay.”
Fantastic garden posts you’ll like:
- Harvesting fall veggies (militaryzerowaste.wordpress.com)
- An Introduction to Raised Bed Gardening (backyardgardeningtips.com)
- Fall and Winter Garden Planting (groundtoground.org)
- Garden Friday – Winter Gardens with Light Freezes (ourmotherskeeper.com)
- Homegrown Fall Gardening… (nolagirlatheart.wordpress.com)
- Gardening Tips During Winter (backyardgardeningtips.com)
- “Strong to the Finish when I Eats Me Spinach!!….” (smallhousebiggarden.wordpress.com)
- It’s January, and I’m Still Eating Garden Lettuce (slog.thestranger.com)
- Mmm… Garden Greens (slog.thestranger.com)