In the ‘Nick’ of Time

Even though the full moon that’s been keeping my kitty-kitty prowling and meowing around the house during the night is postcard beautiful…


the cold, short days really are cause for prayer and Prozac. For those of us that love to garden this is the time of year that we begin to truly miss kneeling at our weedy altars. The answer to this annual crisis is found in my mailbox, right there with the Christmas cards and end-of-the-year requests for charitable donations. Just in the ‘nick’ of time, the seed catalogs arrive! The colorful, mouth-watering, dream-inducing wish-books can transport me right back to warm days and garden plots.

Today’s ‘crop‘ of catalogs…


inspired me to get outside and remove the plastic from my hoop houses so I could harvest some fresh kale and parsley… 


to add to tonight’s soup…


In my winter hoop house and in the kitchen, kale is king. After some hard frosts, it sweetens up, is easy-peazy to grow, and hearty enough to withstand serious cold with just a little protection. And check out the nutritional qualities of this super food:


While I was in the garden, I took a peek at another bed that I’d planted with Red Sails lettuce, chard, spinach and some micro-greens called Claytonia and Mache’. Here’s that bed on Oct. 25th:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s what it looks like today, Dec. 17th:


Come late winter, when I feel like I can’t possibly look at another plate of kale, the spinach and chard will be filling this space with their tender sweetness that can’t be duplicated with winter varieties. Just in the Nick of Time.


5 Comments so far
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Ahhhh, you gave me a fix of gardening that this old garden addict needs with 5″ of snow on the ground! I’ve tried kale raw and cooked and haven’t developed a taste for it yet, but I’ll give it another shot after looking at that nice soup of yours. Happy winter gardening and have lovely holidays. Thanks for writing a great blog which I always enjoy reading.

Comment by sarasinart

My favorite way to eat kale is thus: Remove stem, cut leaves in fine shreds then saute in olive oil that’s had red pepper flakes added to it. Cover til tender, stir around occasionaly, adding salt once it’s wilted and tender. The kale would live under 5″ of snow with a bit of plastic, but I’m not sure I would! haha Happy holidays to you too! Have you retired yet or is that first of the year?

Comment by simpleintn

The first of the year…….begins a whole new year, really! I’ll try your recipe, cos I understand the benefits of the stuff: healthy and also easy to grow. Thanks! Nah, I won’t be doing any actual winter gardening under snow. I don’t enjoy snow or cold weather either one. I run in the house as quick as I can. It’s 29 out right now, yuk. Winter in Pennsylvania. Have good holidays, and I hope Micheal is well.

Comment by sarasinart

Merry Christmas, Sam!! I have a couple of questions for you. Can I start lettuces and kale in a hoop house or a cold frame now? Will it grow now for spring? I’m thinking so. . . . Also, I’ve never used either one. I know you have to raise the lid on a cold frame on warm days. . .do you have to do something like that with a hoop house? Do people who work away from home routinely loose everything on those warm days? You’re a fountain of information!! I appreciate you. ;o)

Comment by Barbara

Barbara, I don’t think you should try to start your lettuce and kale now, but wait instead until late February. I think the seed would just rot. That said, I haven’t ever tried to start anything now, at the solstice, so if you decide to, keep me posted on whether it’s successful or not. And most people that use hoops or cold frames learn to check the weather before they go to work, and will vent with a little (or a large, depending on the forecast) stick before they leave. I only keep mine closed tight when we’re expecting really really cold weather. It hardens the plants not to be closed up so tightly, and keeps insects from hatching in the warm, moist confines. And of course, part of this depends on what you’ve planted. Look for cold hardy varieties only. Summer bibb lettuce won’t make it. Good luck and Merry Christmas to you too!

Comment by simpleintn

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