Saturday, March 6, 2021

Winter Garden
My fragrant winter crop.

My time has finally come!" October-me rejoiced.

After years - nay, decades - of coveting the idea of becoming a winter gardener but hating to muck about in the soil during the rainy season, I came up with a fabulous alternative plan.

With my new planting boxes, cool weather crops could easily thrive in my back yard while I need never stoop over them with a shovel or a hoe, not even while planting them. Now, I fantasized, I would grow fresh produce year round, and I imagined myself calming stepping outside into the misty grandeur of Pacific Northwest rain (or the "marine layer," as we so stoically euphemize) to harvest romantically fragrant bouquets of fresh spinach and lettuce greens, armloads of earthy brussels sprouts and turnips. 

I had great dreams.

And I followed through. I cleaned out the refuse left behind from the summer tenants, freshened up the soil with a nice batch of compost, and headed off to my favorite nursery to stroll thoughtfully among the offerings of  winter vegetable starts, poetically putting into motion my elegant plan.

As it turned out, a sale on summer perennials distracted a good portion of my attention that day, but I did pick up a handful of green onions. 

Excitedly, because I've never grown green onions before, I raced home and got them directly settled into their new planting box home. I remember a cool drizzle falling as I finished up my task, and that seemed a propitious omen. Filled with the bubbling optimism that gardening always stirs up in me, I took one last look of sweet satisfaction at my new babies as I walked back into the house.

And then completely and utterly forgot that they existed.
When I invited Gracie to pose for this photo, she misunderstood my intentions and obediently leaped up into the freshly planted boxes on the left. The tiny strawberries in front and the asparagus crowns in the back have forgiven her for her misplaced enthusiasm, and I do too. 

Last weekend, during a break in the rain, I stuck my head out the back door for the first time in months. Surveying the winter wreckage and estimating how many dozens of hours it will take me to set things to rights again, I swiveled my head to the right and noticed my planting boxes in significant upheaval.

Suddenly I remembered my winter garden, and with considerable remorse, walked over to see what had become of my poor neglected green onions. 

My hopes were not high.

Imagine my surprise and delight when one mighty heave on the tops of some tumbled down but entirely fresh and green onions yielded a handful of picture perfect green onions.

Yes, I'll admit that they might have become a bit overgrown and jumbly, resulting in some amateurish floppiness, but once I trimmed them up, my green onions look entirely legit.

When I'd finished this job, I wrapped thie green onions in a clean dish towel and stowed them in the fridge until dinner time. A few minutes later, as I was wiping down the counter, one of my daughters walked into the kitchen, then stopped dead in her tracks.

"Oh my gosh, I smell green onions. And like the best green onions in the world. They smell strong, in a good way, and so fresh!"

I smiled as I told her my story.

While my fantastical visions about a bountiful winter garden did not exactly play out as I'd hoped, my dream of fragrant cool weather crops came delightfully, unexpectedly true.. 

And come next October, when it's time to plant a new winter garden, I will definitely try again. 

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