I would contend that a garden of edible perennials must be one of the few to yield delights in the cold and often bleak mid winter months.
I have left a number of root vegetables in the ground over the winter. Some have been left to continue making tubers and the others I am storing them outside in situ as an alternative to having store them indoors. Last week I went outside to harvest some.
Before I went outdoors I poked my head into the (unheated) conservatory to see if anything was stirring yet in the pots of yacon tubers. These young growing tips for next year’s plants were removed from plants harvested earlier in January. They were planted into pots of just damp compost and left in a cool, but not cold airy place (ie the conservatory). Yacon tubers (and the young plants as well) grow very slowly and can take a long time to produce shoots; so I had not expected that four of the dozen or more pots would be showing young leaves breaking the surface. That’s one delight! Here are the others found in the garden:
- Perennial onions of different varieties – perennial leeks, three cornered leeks, Welsh onions. Some of these appeared before Christmas and are by now growing very strongly.
- Self seeded lamb’s lettuce that I have been picking since just after Christmas.
- Fresh young shoots to pick on the kales.
- Daubenton’s kale cuttings taken in late autumn sprouting new leaves.
- and what I went outside for in the first place – harvests of Jerusalem artichoke, mashua, oca and skirret – some to use in the kitchen and some to save to replant for the coming year’s crop.
Of course one of the most delightful times of the year for any gardener is when the snowdrops make their appearance, heralding the beginning of the end of winter. This weekend my partner and I walked to an isolated church on a Welsh hillside looking towards the Shropshire hills. There in the hedge, glinting in the pale morning sun, between showers of rain were these beauties: