Thanks to a chronic sinus infection, I've spent far too much of the last few months sprawled on the couch, reading garden blogs. Reading is great, but it's not the same as actually gardening. I can never decide if I'm a terribly incompetent gardener, or if garden bloggers are an unrepentant pack of liars. My back garden bears no resemblance to the massive abundance of the photos I've seen on garden blogs.
My garden might as well be in a state of suspended animation. While none of my plants are actually dying, they're not growing either. Worse, some of these static plants are showing signs of bolting. This is entirely unlike the lust growth shown by the garden bloggers in Maine or Montana or up by the Arctic Circle. Clearly, I've been tricked into believing that California is some kind of holy ground for winter agriculture.
One of the least-pathetic things in our winter garden are the greens that go by the confusing names of ether Italian Dandelion or Chickory. We planted this last year, but never really figured out what to do with it. By the time we got around to harvesting it, the greens were too bitter, even for me. (The chickens weren't so fussy. They chowed down on these greens.)
Robb chopped up the "dandelion" greens as well as some garden kale, and made what Southerners might call a mess of greens. A delicious, delicious mess.
Even if these plants tasted like poison, Id keep growing them because they attract so much wildlife. The green bees adore them.
And this is the only plant in our back yard that has attracted goldfinches. I'd call that a success.
We do a fair amount of over-the-fence swapping with our next-door neighbors. We gave them a batch of our meyer lemons, and got back marmalade and salt-preserved lemons in return. We gave them freshly baked bagels (possibly slightly undercooked) and they sent over a huge pile of their mystery lemons. Have you ever seen such a huge lemon as the one on the bottom of our plate? It's as big as a grapefruit!
I may not be able to grow winter cabbages as well as the crazed garden bloggers in the frigid north, but I'm fairly certain that they don't have surplus lemons. And let's get real. Lemon and honey are better than bok choi when you want to make a whiskey sour.
Want to read some of those insane garden blogs? You can find them at Daphne's place.