February at the Community Garden

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

We popped over to the community garden yesterday afternoon with a frozen pail of compost. I thought I would take some pictures so you can see what it looks like in the middle of winter.

As you can see, not much is happening. Drab and dull. We stop using our plots between October/November and March/April depending on the season.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

If I wanted to really maximize the space, I could construct some cold frames within my plot and grow cold hardy greens like kale, mache, and spinach. And I would, but unfortunately the lane-way that leads to the garden is typically treacherous terrain through the winter months. We haven’t had much in the way of snow and ice this winter — it’s the first year since joining the garden around seven years ago that I’ve been able to get to the garden gate with relative ease.

Instead, I grow edible perennials as a strategy for extending the season. Cold hardy, perennial herbs such as garden sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, garlic chives, mint, and ‘Egyptian Walking’ onion function as the bones of the garden, holding in the soil and offering up a harvest that starts in the early spring and lasts straight through to the late fall.

Here’s what it looks like in April.

There are also a few self-seeders including calendula, chervil, bloody dock, lovage, shiso, lemon balm, and chamomile that pretty much grow themselves. They can be a curse or a blessing of plenty depending on how you look at it.

Over the years I’ve also added a few small fruit bushes including gooseberries and American black currant, and several strawberries (wild and alpine types) as a way to get garner yearly crops that don’t require seasonal planting.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This is a wild geranium that showed up one day. I always let a few survive since they’re not too invasive and I like their pretty little pink flowers. As you can see, it is also proof that plants don’t necessarily “die” during the winter, but stay alive in a dormant stage underneath the snow.

And it looks like we’ve had a visitor in our absence. I noticed new graffiti in a couple of spots along The Beer Store wall.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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5 thoughts on “February at the Community Garden

  1. It’s such a great feeling seeing green things popping up at this time of year.
    I noticed that some of my bulbs were being pulled out of the ground & immediately started to blame the birds but then noticed the deer prints in my veggie bed – she found my sorrel already!

  2. Sorry about the graffiti, people can be so thoughtless. But I really like that you’re involved with a community garden. Can’t wait to see it later this summer!

  3. I love these photos. I know it might sound crazy, but I miss winter and the feeling that plants are dormant. Resting. Here in SF I work as a gardener and I basically play the role of winter deciding when to strip and prune the roses to make them rest, if only so briefly! Maybe you could get some folks in to do a mural so the not so pretty graffiti could disappear and some beautiful graffiti art could take its place…

  4. Do you only use your bloody dock when the leaves are young or do you use them when they get more mature, too? I have some in a pot and I haven’t quite figured out a function for it yet. Like you, I think it is too pretty to toss. :)

  5. There’s a community garden in my neighborhood as well but I have yet to try it. You’re inspiring me to reserve a plot this season. I’m just gonna do it!

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