Here in Southern Virginia, winter has been alarmingly mild with only a few weeks here and there of frost and absolutely no snow.
However, that cold spell in December obliterated my garden. I forgot to bring my Bay Laurel tree inside, and after all that work reviving it last year, it’s now 100% dead.
Nearly everything is 100% dead: the rosemary, the chard, the mustard, and even some of the lettuce.
I spent a good amount of the middle of winter cleaning up the leaves in the garden and marveling at the fact that anything survived the December cold spell. All things considered, I got some surprise lettuce, curled parsley, and a huge bush of marjoram!
I don’t remember what kind of lettuce this is, but it is either butter lettuce or green oakleaf lettuce. I will be harvesting it soon for use in salads. Chicken Caesar Salad tastes incredible with fresh homegrown lettuce. When I have time, I’ll make Caesar Dressing from scratch to go with it.
I was originally growing this Curley Parsley in a pot (and it’s still there). This surprise bush of parsley sprouted from ground, and it looks beautiful. It is bright green with crisp ruffled leaves. This is an important ingredient in my chicken and wild rice stew.
Marjoram is one of my favorite herbs. This bush erupted in growth after the frost, I was excited to see so much marjoram and thought about all of the Mediterranean dishes I could throw it into. After discovering the flavor of fresh marjoram, I have been less inclined to grow oregano, which is much stronger in flavor and not as sweet.
Hopeful New Crops
I am attempting to grow beans and peas this year along with my usual herbs. I also hope to get a few heads of lettuce before the hottest weeks of summer.
DRAGON TONGUE BEANS
The crop I look forward to the most is the Dragon Tongue Bean crop. I didn’t write about it last year, but last growing season I grew these beautiful lavender speckled beans. I didn’t get a huge harvest since I didn’t grow many, but I had enough to create this beautiful pasta dish made with spinach fettucine, sautéed vegetables, and pesto sauce.
This was the dish that awakened me to the absolute marvel of garden to plate dishes. Along with the homegrown beans themselves, this Dragon Tongue Bean fettucine was made using fresh homemade spinach pasta, homegrown cherry tomatoes, Fresh Italian Seasoning made with homegrown herbs, and Pesto Sauce made with homegrown basil.
After sautéing the vegetables with sea salt and fresh herbs, they were added to the cooked spinach pasta and tossed with the pesto sauce. The flavors were complex with the sweet beans and tomatoes, herbaceous and cheesy pesto, and light and delicate pasta. It was the best pasta I had ever tasted, and I lusted for more of the beans, but I had trouble growing more for the rest of the summer due to heat waves.
STARTING FROM SEED
I am going to also try growing Quadrato D’Asti Rosso Peppers, a gorgeous bejeweled red bell pepper, Sugar Daddy Snap Peas, Bronze Beauty Lettuce, and Black Knight Bean Runner. I am starting these from seed and using my Aerogarden lamp to stimulate them until the weather gets warmer.
I didn’t have much luck the last year I tried to grow bell peppers and peas, but this year I plan to do a better job hardening them off. Last time, I just shoved my seedlings into the ground and they… died….
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