Details of the End of 2016 in the Garden.

The December 31, 2016 overview of the garden can’t show you much detail.

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Wishetwurra Farm Garden, December 10, 2016. No details here.

How much detail can you see at a hundred feet? This old sign painter can tell you that for a person with normal eyesight, you need a three or four inch high letter for normal-sight legibility at one hundred feet. For a letter to be easily read at that distance, your letters need to be ten inches tall. Or more. Four-to-ten inches is pretty big, when it comes to “details”.

So, let’s go to ground and spend a few minutes looking at details.

A while back we had a couple of nights of real cold.

How cold? So cold that the cover crop oats laid down for good.

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By next spring, these oats will be a thin, tan, desiccated layer on the surface of the ground. It can either be swept aside for plants that need more sun and open dirt, or just left in place for plants that benefit from mulch.

The last cauliflower plant struggles to survive, but is unlikely to ever make a head.

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A fragment of old-man’s-beard lichen, fallen onto limp cauliflower leaves.

Cold can elicit color.

The chill of the changing season is coloring the kale.

Take a close look at these leaves, which are turning purple.

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A scientific answer for this purplish color is that cold stress causes anthocyanin pigments to accumulate in the leaves.

Underfoot at the bottom of the garden, few feet away from the coloring kale, are some fresh-looking green leaves that look unfazed by the season’s frigidity. What is it?

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The old timers called this plant “corn salad”. Corn salad has been rebranded with its french name,  “mache”. So why “corn salad”? The old timers, before maize burst upon the world scene,  called most grains “corn”. This plant was a prolific weed in grainfields, hence the  “corn salad” name. For a while now, I’ve been letting some mache go to seed each year, and scattering the seed heads about. Now there are patches of this plant throughout the garden.  It’s nice to have “weeds” that aren’t really weeds.

For more about corn salad/mache, see: http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/4614/how-to-grow-mache-corn-salad-springs-first-green

Another neighbor of that kale is a plant with some spiky, otherworldly seedpods.

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What the heck?

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It’s jimsonweed. Datura stramonium. A volunteer. Each year, there’s usually at least one of these that pops up somewhere in the garden. It’s a plant of many names.  Thorn Apple. Or Devil’s Snare. Or hell’s bells, devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, “tolguacha”, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, pricklyburr, or devil’s cucumber. Don’t eat it.

Amongst the fading greens, and the blacks and the browns and the tans and the russets, are a few bursts of color.

Near the plant from which it fell, its insides long gone, the skin of a tomato lingers.

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Today is January 2, 2017.

Tomorrow there will be 52 seconds more daylight than today.

 

 

 

 

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