December 1, 2012
The weather here in Springfield is cloudy and warm, today – too warm for the first day of December. Tomorrow will be even warmer, seventy or above, according to the weather forecasters. In the last two weeks of more normal weather, where some of the nights got well below freezing, I picked the last of the spinach and lettuce I’d planted on the south porch and started a new batch in a big pot inside.
Tomorrow, I’ll plant some tomato and pepper seeds to transplant into five-gallon buckets later, in this year’s attempt at the elusive indoor vegetable garden. It keeps me busy and, who knows, perhaps this will be the year I finally unlock the secret of the indoor winter tomato. One of life’s little mysteries that keeps me going.
Last month, as October gave way to November, I planted the potato onions out in the backyard garden and put the whole thing to bed under a heavy blanket of leaves, raked up and dumped back there by the young man who periodically comes around looking for outside work. I’d intended to plant some garlic cloves, too, but forgot to save any this year. Now that the spinach and lettuce are gone from the earth boxes on the porch, maybe I’ll buy a head or two of garlic at the store and tuck away a few of the cloves out there. I did that several years ago and had four nice heads of garlic by the next June. Since I do not use a lot of garlic, minced and frozen, they lasted me through the next two years. Perhaps I’ll put some beet and carrot seeds out there, too, and see whether they come up and, if they do, how long they take to reach an edible size – assuming they do. More little mysteries to ponder through the winter.
I have kept lettuce growing out there through the winter, by leaving the boxes open to the sun during the day and covering them with blankets at night. The dark color of the boxes and the dirt and water chambers inside seem to absorb enough heat on sunny days to keep the lettuce going under their nightly blankets, if the temperatures at night don’t get too close to zero. But I do have to remember to haul water down the inside stairs every day or two to keep the chamber full, something I am not fond of doing on those cold and cloudy days.
Technically, we are still in drought, despite having had five or six inches of rain over the autumn. The weathermen are forecasting about fourteen inches of snow, this winter. That is down a little from the seventeen to eighteen inches we normally have, but better than the inch or two, we had last winter. I hope they’re right.
And, of course, the holiday season approaches – assuming that, as autumn officially becomes winter on December 21st, the interpreters of the Mayan Calendar are wrong and we are all still here on December 22nd. (What a terrible waste of all that Black Friday shopping madness, if they are right and we are not, huh?) Personally, I’m hoping for a big, shuddering blast of worldwide consciousness-raising, though I’m not really expecting it.
I do fully expect to be here in January, though – with or without a new blast of consciousness – perusing the seed catalogs, drawing up garden plans and deciding what to plant where and when, as we move on toward spring. Of course, I can’t promise that making it through the end of the Mayan calendar means we’re out of the woods entirely. There’s always global financial collapse, climate disasters and peak oil to consider. At this point, we can probably do as little to stop these very real crises as we can to stop that false one. Another of life’s little mysteries to ponder, as we get ready for winter.