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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Best Surprises

Every year, there is at least one complete surprise at harvest time. One year it was a fragrant patch of holy basil growing underneath pumpkin vines, from seed I thought had never germinated. This year, as I was moving some pumpkin plants, I discovered a little watermelon! Pure joy! (I had planted watermelon seeds too late in the season and had thought they didn't produce.)


You might think that as time goes by, you get accustomed to seeing all that can grow from a set of seed packets. I find that with each season, it amazes me more and more to consider all that can come from a single seed. This flower is blooming in mid-November at 3,000' near the US/Canada border, from a perennial flower mix planted a few years ago. This single plant puts out dozens of flowers each year.


Raspberries in November? It's been -4.5 Celsius or 24 Farenheit a number of times already, and yet every time I visit the garden, there are a few more ripe raspberries. 


Another great surprise was the high germination rate where onions had bolted and dropped their beautiful black seeds. I covered two patches of onion sprouts with leaves to see if they will overwinter. There were also some I'd collected for sprouting in my kitchen, and then forgotten in the garden in a sandwich bag. The entire lot had sprouted in the bag, so I planted them in my tipi greenhouse to eat as green onions later on. One of the benefits to growing heirloom varieties is that when they bolt and produce seed, the offspring will more reliably have characteristics you enjoy. However, with onions, the greens always taste good, no matter what the variety.


Meanwhile, inside the tipi greenhouse (which used to be the cucumber tipi), life continues to grow. When the sun shines, it feels like summer in there, even if it is just above freezing outside. Underground are aspen logs and generous amounts of alpaca manure. Around the tipi is plastic on the east, south, and west sides, with an old, thick, blanket over the north side, including the door.


These purple radishes in the tipi greenhouse are like little bits of hope coming out of the ground.