As I write, my gardens are buried under at least 6 inches of wet snow which began falling early this Sunday morning. With some very cold weather ahead this Thanksgiving week, I suspect the ground will remain under snow for many days. Other areas of the Commonwealth received only rain but also face some harsh weather. Does this mean the outdoor gardening season is at an end?
Hardly! In the vegetable garden, I still have carrots growing under the canopy of a row cover, as well as kale and broccoli. I did dig up the remainder of my leeks the day before the snow, though they typically remain in the ground until Christmas, protected by an overlying and deep layer of straw. However, due to considerable losses from pillaging voles in the past, I decided to dig, clean, chop, and freeze my remaining harvest early this year.
In the landscape, there are still some herbaceous perennials to be cut back, and trees and shrubs, damaged under the weight of heavy snow, to be pruned. If you have some spring flowering bulbs which have not yet been planted, do it now before the ground freezes. Ideally these bulbs should be planted about 4 to 6 weeks before soil is solidly frozen. Nevertheless, they are more likely to survive the winter in the ground, no matter how late planted, than in a bag in the basement.
Thanksgiving is clearly my favorite holiday. Our focus is on family but without the pressures and trappings of the other holidays that soon follow. For me, it’s also a time for reflection and enumeration of the things for which I am thankful, such as:
The folks who manage this website and readers of this column who tolerate my often inane comments while trying to sift out meaningful information.
The many enjoyable hours I spend discussing plants and gardening tactics with home gardeners and professional horticulturalists such as my daughter, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge.
The time my wife freely gives in weeding our ever-expanding gardens, which I falsely keep promising to limit.
The stimulation my grandson and other young people give me as I witness their inherent enthusiasm and curiosity about the natural world.
Happy Thanksgiving to them and to all.