It’s Cold!

Well friends, it’s cold.

Granted, those of you in more northerly latitudes are collectively playing a concerto on a collection of the world’s smallest violins. And you’re right, you’ve got it worse.

But still, my little plants that I optimistically planted a few months ago are threatened by ol’ Jack Frost. Same with my citrus and my sad, sad Duke Avocado. Now the Duke is legendary in some circles for its frost hardiness. And I have no doubt that most folks who grow the Duke would have little to worry about at 30 degrees F. Not that there are that many of them, but that’s another story.

As far as I can tell, with frost, the Duke is like the character of Topper from Dilbert: “30 degrees! That’s nothing. When I was a seedling I was a bartender at McMurdo Station. The monster in the ‘The Thing’ was inspired by my morning calisthenics routine in 60 below.”

But my Duke is actually more “Wally” than “Topper.” And it’s my fault entirely.

Over the summer, I obtained a Duke avocado tree right before I was to go on vacation. Rather than bring the Duke with the family on a four hour car trip, I opted to plant it instead. Unfortunately, it was 110 degrees. It was faithfully watered and shaded, but like the first guy to drink from the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones, I chose…poorly.  I should have road tripped with the Duke. Would have made an interesting story.

But no. Even though it looked pretty good after the trip, the leaves soon started to turn black. Then they fell off. And stayed off. But…miracle of miracles….the stem is still green! To paraphrase Billy Chrystal in “The Princess Bride,” it’s only mostly dead, which means…it’s partially alive! So to keep it in this state and give it the best chance to come back in the spring, it got a decoration of old fashioned Christmas lights that give off a small amount of heat. Over that went a pillow case.

Ok–you’ll notice this plant has leaves. It is actually the Meyer lemon tree that is doing much better than our friend the Duke. I couldn’t bear to take a picture of it in its current state.

It does look festive. Take my word for it.

As do the rest of the plants in the Domek winter garden threatened by frost. Namely the pepper plants I’m trying to turn into year round denizens of my garden and three varieties of peas.

Yes it is possible that some of my peppers survive until Spring. No it isn’t terribly likely, but I’m giving it the old college try. That said, it may be a “try” much like my attempt at calculus while at UCD (Go Ags!): I tried, and failed. But whatever, onward peppers into the long winter! The Domek Winter garden bows to not weather, not logic, and certainly not comfort! Did I mention it’s cold? I did. And it is.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, we were discussing your constant questions about which varieties of peas I’ve planted. That would be Green Arrow shelling peas–picked out by my little buddy kid 2 (below) for my lovely Anna who enjoys peas in the pod like Gollum loves the One Ring. She only occasionally hisses to STAY AWAY, PRECIOUS when people ask to share. And by “people,” I of course mean “me.”

The second variety is the Mammoth Melting Pea, and the third is two rows of very cool Dutch blue podded peas. They are really more purple than blue. They are tasty and pretty, which satisfies both the wife’s desire for beauty and my desire for every plant in the garden to earn its keep. The rare garden win-win in the Domek house.

What else is growing, you wonder? Quite the inquisitor we have here. But I’ll accommodate.

Speaking of “The Precious” we have my favorite vegetable that isn’t a tomato growing in the a semi-forgotten concrete prison surrounding dirt that over the summer housed the Domek corn and pumpkin experiment. Some know them as broad beans but most in these parts know them as fava beans.

And no, I’ve never tried them with a chianti, nice or otherwise, or liver. But they are wonderful mashed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and a bit of Worcestershire sauce. Not my recipe–I got that and the idea to plant them after reading about them at Hank Shaw’s Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. Now they are a staple and we grow enough to freeze a few pounds to eat throughout the year. I made a version of his puree topped with parm on top of homemade challah for the office potluck and they disappeared quickly. Mmmmm favas.

Rounding out the winter garden is spring onions (some of which are ripe now, in WINTER–HA–TAKE THAT PLANT COLLOQUIAL NICKNAME GIVER), kale, and green garlic. No pictures of them because who wants to see pictures of kale, onions and garlic. I only grow kale because I really want my family to like it. But I’m the only one. I did a braised kale once that they kind of liked, but only when the kids thought it was something else. When I did the big reveal, the kids were supposed to say something like “Wow, Daddy! We can’t believe we foolishly disliked kale for so long when it is really amazing and your cooking skills are the best. We’ll try lots of things you cook from now on!” But that didn’t happen. The girl in the picture below, Kid 1, said something that can best be described as the exact opposite of what she was supposed to say.

No matter. Eventually, kale will win out. I may just have to call it something else. Like “rabbit’s ears,” “unicorn greens” or “I’ll pay you a dollar if you at least try it.” Or something.

Anyhoo, that’s the state of the Domek winter garden. It’s cold. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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