February in the Garden


We've had nice weather here in SC for the past couple of weeks, and  I've been busy turning in cover crops of clover, rye, and turnip greens to enrich the soil.


I've sowed seeds of spring vegetables under floating row covers.  I place the row cover over wire hoops I cut from wire used for chain-link fencing protect seedlings.  The cover protects the baby seedlings from wind, driving rain, and raises the air temperature a few degrees.  

Last weekend, the temperature was nearly 70 degrees and the sun shone all weekend.  I opened the windows in the house to give us fresh air, and I planted 14 pounds of potatoes.  To the left are potatoes I planted a week ago.  To the right, spinach and lettuce enjoy their blanket.


This will be my tomato patch.  Instead of turning in the entire row of cover crop, I dug individual holes for the tomatoes and turned in the crop in that area only.  By the time I'm ready to plant the tomatoes, the cover crop under the soil will have decomposed and enriched the soil.  This location got a lot of traffic from my chickens over the winter, so I hope it will have plenty of nutrients for healthy tomatoes.  The heat should kill the Austrian Winter Peas and rye and will make a mulch.


I love working in the garden in the winter.  Instead of being disgustingly sweaty in equally gross clothes, as I am in the summer, I can wear decent clothes and look like those photos of gardeners I see in gardening magazines that must live in cooler climates.  You know, there they are trellising the tomatoes and picking beans, and they appear ready for an LL Bean cover shot.  Not that I ever look ready for a magazine shoot, (ha!) but when I trellis tomatoes and pick beans I'm covered with dirt, insect bites, and sweat.  At least in the winter I could, theoretically, go directly to the grocery store, without a shower, from the garden.