My garden is all but shut down for the winter. There is still a few edible green things out there but they are few and far between: turnips, kale, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts. Usually this would be cause for a serious bout with the blues for me. Not this year, this year I wanted things to be different.
I used some cold frames to extend my season this year, but was only partially sucessful with that. I learned a lot: cold frames need venting as much as possible or things tend to mold with all the moisture, even warm the lack of sun causes things to grow much slower, frosted tomatoes don't ripen off the vine. I went ahead and closed down the beds that were cold framed a couple weeks ago and planted a cover crop in them.
I'm making an effort to see the beauty in the winter garden this year. This isn't something I've ever done before. I usually just walk away from the garden when things start dying back since the dying foliage usually depresses me. This winter I focused on cutting down the things that were frosted and composted them in my newly built pallet compost bins. I made sure that every square inch of bare soil had something covering it.
This fall I brought in a bunch of composted horse manure and some composted cow manure to help build the soil fertility. I planted cereal rye as a cover crop to build a deeper tith to the soil. The cover crop came up nicely and is providing a beautiful green grassy look to the mulched beds of the garden. I am excited to see what the soil looks like in the spring after adding all of this to the beds.
The beauty of the winter garden is hard to explain to someone, but its there. It's in the potential for the spring. It's in the green of the last veggies holding on. It's in the cover crop holding down and improving the soil. It's in the potential new pond site, just waiting to be dug out.
This winter is the first year I've ever been deliberate about trying to enjoy the season. I decided to try taking a niacine supplement to hopefully help with my seasonal depression and it has helped so much. I notice it helping in drastically upping my cold tolerence as well as my mood. I've had the ability to see the joy in the season even when it gets darker every day as the cold intensifies.
Winter solstice has passed and the days are gradually getting lighter longer and longer again. Soon the promise of winters potential for growing will be realized and my favorite seasons will be here...but until then I will try to continue seeing the beauty in winter.
Of course it helps that I should be starting seeds for spring soon too!