The Broccoli Diver and the Wishetwurra Farm Garden: Midwinter.

What’s happening at the Wishetwurra Farm Garden?

Stirrings, both of soil and of life.

Our day length has passed ten hours. Each day is about two minutes longer than the one before. In one more week, the days will be fifteen minutes longer. Every day above freezing, hardy plants are growing more roots. Seeds are germinating. Chickweed will flower on a nice, sunny day. The first snowdrops have bloomed, and more, thousands more, are coming along.

Here’s what the garden looks like from the ladder-aerie, sixteen feet up.

We had a spell of warm weather in January that gave an opportunity to till in about eight loads of manure, into beds that are being “fed”.

Imagine that, tilling weather on January 15th!

Tour time. All photographs taken February 1, 2013.


North end of W. Farm garden.

In honor of famous divisions, the central path was named late last year.


The path that divides the two main sections of the garden is hereby christened “The Mason Dixon Line.” Since my family comes from both North and South, the name is appropriate.

The far, or Southern section.


Hmmm…a name is needed for that farthermost section. Any suggestions?

We’ll make a quick stop in the greenhouse to admire some babies and children.


Some baby spinach. Seed was planted on December 27, 2012.

The “children” are Mache (corn salad) and Claytonia.


Mache. A transplanted “volunteer”. It’s still small, but spring growth has started. When the days are warm, it will bloom and set seed. It will be much larger then. It could even be Monster Mache.



Claytonia. The first time I ever saw claytonia was on the banks of the Deschutes River Canyon, near Bend, Oregon.

Outside, there are volunteers popping up. Claytonia and mache may be found almost anywhere. The plant in the photo below is a mystery cole family plant. It looks like a white kale hybrid of some sort.


Hybrid brassica volunteer.

The garden never really stops producing, except for a six week rest period in the dead of winter. Even then, root crops and celeriac are tucked away in underground bins, and there are potatoes in the cellar. Leeks are available outside, where they’re surrounded and covered by a thick layer of eelgrass mulch.


Leek and potato soup is a fine winter food.

The leek’s close cousins, the garlics, have grown a little, even during winter. Their roots are even busier, spreading out below the surface. Come the end of frost, and the garlic takes off.


More than one late April or early May visitor to the garden has said of the garlic patch. “Wow, your corn is so tall already!”

Heavily mulched is the cardoon. I’ve never grown it before, but my three plants look like they will survive the winter. Assuming they live, come spring the rosettes will be wrapped with opaque cylinders of paper. After the plants have grown in enclosed dark for a while, they will become a blanched white. You are then supposed to take the center ribs of the leaves to use for cooking.

They’re an artichoke relative, so the flavor is supposed to be akin.

We shall see.


Cardoon. “New” plant experiment. The leaves are big and beautiful.

The beds in the south side of the garden start parallel to the fence. The sides of the garden are not parallel, so where the beds meet is a triangle. The triangle was neglected until late this summer, when it received a major improvement project. Four or five layers of manure and compost, with thinner layers of dirt between, were applied and lightly tilled. Oats were planted on top. The idea of the oats is that they hold the soil over the winter, but will be killed by the cold. That way you’re not faced with a two-fot high tangle of winter rye to till in, come May.


This three-sided area, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, is of course named “The Bermuda Triangle”. You may be wondering about the swimmer?

In the photo above, the legs and arms belong to a unique denizen of the Wishetwurra Farm garden.

Some of you are already familiar with the “Broccoli Diver”.

For now, lacking broccoli to dive in, it has moved to the Bermuda Triangle for the winter months. I’m not sure where it will move to later in the spring.

5 responses to “The Broccoli Diver and the Wishetwurra Farm Garden: Midwinter.

  1. Enjoying the tour, thanks (c:

    Trying to think of a family place-name that might work for the southern area. But Wildwoods doesn’t fit. Hmmmmm. A name I have adopted from our history for our little place here, is especially appropriate during wet spells: Mildew-on-the-Fog.

    • Probably not too much. What’s really harsh on the plants is a hard, zero or below cold, particularly when the ground is bare. We’ll be getting snow, eventually, with this storm, and snow is actually an insulating blanket. The snow will keep snowdrops and new bulb bud tips at (for them) a tolerable temperature.

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