It is mighty quiet on the homestead right now and I’m enjoying every chilly moment. It’s my one time of year to get ahead of the garden. Most of my chores of late include cleaning out dead leaves, setting up new trellis for maturing vines, and working the compost. But there are a few things to harvest when I look carefully.


Winter leeks covered with thick mulch

Our onions are best harvested in spring, when the bulbs have matured more, but I am pulling some out here and there in a pinch. Leeks are planted in  spring, summer and fall – just tucked in wherever there is space between other vegetables – so there are always some ready to harvest.


The younger hens who are keeping the egg basket full

The eggs keep coming! Our chicken flock was comprised of mostly older hens, so last spring we added some new, young hens. The new girls are keeping the egg basket full, even without artificial light. There are just enough eggs to keep us happy – maybe 6-8 per week.


Swiss chard no more! Yet I spy a couple teeny tiny leaves still alive…

Our row covers were not enough to withstand Portland’s unusually cold winter, which knocked out the swiss chard and beet greens. Look carefully at that seemingly dead chard picture and you can still see a tiny leaf or two that looks alive. Maybe it will surprise us when the spring sun arrives.


Sunchoke flowers have faded, but the edible tubers wait quietly for harvest under the soil

As dead as things above ground are, under the soil there is still plenty to harvest. The sunchokes are making great soups and we’re roasting the beet roots and potatoes as needed.

Is your winter garden surviving? What winter gardening strategies worked for you? I would love to hear what you are harvesting and how you are keeping things growing on these cold, dark days. I’m taking notes for next year!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson