January Winter Garden Update

By Lydia

I wish this update was an update of exciting success, and for a while it was looking like I would be able to give one of those. My only problematic plant was the broccoli, it never flowered due to the hot weather we had all throughout fall and early winter. But just because there were no broccoli heads doesn’t mean the plant was a complete loss. You can still utilize the leaves, cooking them up like you would some collared greens they are very nutritious and quite delicious while also utilizing the entire plant leaving little waist behind!

The peas production was not as plentiful, and we had them eaten up before bringing them into the house when harvesting them. The spinach, greens and kale were all growing beautifully despite the unfavorable weather, and we had grown two different rounds of radishes. I had just planted my third batch when Mother Nature herself decided to shake things up a bit.

Our temperature rose to the high 70’s the last couple of weeks of December, the humidity building almost daily. I might be new to living down in the south, but I know this kind of weather only breeds trouble. Each day I was wary and paying close attention to some weather apps and reporters. Sure enough, the warnings for dangerous weather began to trickle and then pour in. By Friday, December 31, I had to begin to focus on preparing for some rough storms. Unfortunately, my outdoor prepping was not as strong as I had thought or hoped it would be. I removed anything that could fly loose and tied down my makeshift hoop house. I then turned my focus to the inside, having items in place like boots, helmets and flashlights and then waited.

Saturday night did not disappoint. I kept an eye on the radar and multiple different weather reporting centers. I have some choice words for our county’s reporting and alert system. It was behind and often sending out misleading reports or none to us locals. Most of us never received any warnings and those who did hear anything were warned about thunderstorms.

A bit after 10 I could see the storm approaching our area, when suddenly the sirens went off and my phone gave off a horrible sounding alert. I’ll pause to say, in the year that I have lived here I had yet to hear any sirens and wasn’t sure if there were any within hearing range, so that night answered the siren question for me, and I’m thankful that it’s close enough for me to hear so clearly. The kids are used to the drill I have in place, we’ve had to seek shelter several times over the years while living in Minnesota, tornados aren’t a stranger to us.

We quickly got our boots on, helmets and made sure our flashlights were in hand as we headed down to our storm shelter. My youngest was terrified but remained so calm and brave throughout the whole ordeal. Shortly after I was alerted by my uncle who lives a few hours away that we had a tornado in our town, I could hear the winds picking up outside while we hunkered down close to each other while we reached out to friends and neighbors to alert them to the possible tornado and to take shelter.

Our home never lost power, and the winds only lasted about 10 minutes before dying down. I don’t believe the tornado ever touched the ground, and I’m unaware of anyone taking damage that night. After some time, we were able to leave our shelter and stayed up late watching movies while we all tried to calm down from our pumping adrenaline. My oldest shined so bright that night with his calm maturity. I know he was scared but he tried so hard to keep from showing it, not to be macho but to help keep his younger sister calm and brave.

I remained awake until 3am waiting out the tornado warning that was still listed and listened to the buckets of rain as they poured down for a few hours. The next morning, I assessed the damage to our property. I lost a few limbs in our forest but nothing major, and alas… my hoop garden was no more. The plastic had been pulled off the hoops and my plants had been thoroughly drowned and beaten into the muddy ground from the amount of rain we had in such a short time.

And new weather reports were coming out of a winter storm headed our way. I had to turn my attention to prepping the home for cold, go grocery shopping for food since everything shuts down when there is ice, and try to function on the little sleep that I had had from the adventurous night before. Sunday night brough harsher winds and that plastic hoop green house had no hope of withstanding.

I woke up to find a winter wonder land and I was surprised by the amount of snow on the ground. The winds had blown the snow all along the sides of the trees and everything was so peaceful and quiet and beautiful to look at. My children were thrilled and spent the entire day outdoors. Only coming inside a couple of times to refuel before heading back outside. I ventured out long enough to check on poor abused plants that were beaten and frozen into the ground in an inch of ice from the rain and buried in two inches of snow. It was just two much for my tiny garden to take over the two nights.

I’ll wait a couple of more days to see how it thaws out, pull the plants, stir the dirt, and replant them while finding another way of creating my tiny green house. I’m looking into utilizing cattleguards, they will be sturdy enough to hold up my plastic no problem while also being able to be used to grow vining vegetables during the summer months. Despite the loss of this garden, I’ll pick up the pieces and take in this lesson, and the next round I’ll be even more successful. And sometimes, despite our best efforts we will face hurdles that are out of our control.

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