green house

Mid winter gardening

Robert Patrick

Lakeside RV Retreat @ Indian Creek Farm

Mid winter gardening

I would say not a lot is going on, but then it is just slow in getting there. This cooler than normal weather has put my late planting into a kind of hibernation. The wetness of these past couple of months has been good for all things growing; we sure needed this to help the water tables, but even more to bring back the health of our forests and fields.  I do regularly plant a late winter garden and am used to the slow getting going nature of a winter crop, but dang, this is a slow one for sure.

As I try new methods, new soils, new ground covers, I am finding success. The wild animal composts are doing really well; the wood chip ground cover I put down last spring has almost turned to soil and has given me a break from the normal grass pulling. Now I hope this stays true into the spring, winter gardens are so much easier as you don’t have to fight the grass. The long straight rows of chard, kale, carrots, beets and cabbage are coming along and this week I laid down a side dressing of compost, the coming rains should let it settle into the soil nicely and give them a little boost when we get some sunshine and warmer temps this coming week. When reading about what I am doing, you’re getting a 15 day lag or so, I write on or about the 15th and you guys get to see what I was up to in the first week of the month.

Several weeks back, heck it’s been a month I guess, I did some broad cast seeding of the new compost bed I finished at the end of summer and goodness gracious has it ever turned on, it’s a blanket of green and I can’t even guess the number of plants, millions of them. The seed was a gift from my buddy Larry, some of the seed was some that I had given him and then others he added, I was not sure about carrots, but as they are developing I am seeing hundreds of carrot seedlings sprouting up, it will be by far the largest carrot crop I have grown and in the best soil, very fertile and friable. I could see some giants this year and I have grown some big carrots.

I cut the sugar cane down and replanted, the 5 starts I began with will produce 100’s of canes this coming year, not sure what I am going to do with it all, but then who wouldn’t want a big patch of sugar cane. The cold weather has put a whooping on the taro, the big green ones built bigger corms, the pretty purple one built more corms, each were growing in different types of soils, so next spring I’ll be planting each in the others location to see if this makes a difference in corm development.

As the cooler months have marched forward I have been spending lots of time in the woods, the weather (cool and wet) has produced a plethora of mushrooms this year. I can see a combination of factors building to the large numbers of oyster mushrooms I am bringing to market. The droughts of these past few years killed many trees and those trees in turn are being colonized by the wild strains of mushroom we have in our forests, I am finding more and more trees in my local area that are pinging oysters and on a more regular bases than in years past. I am not complaining by any means, this part time income is very welcome and the excellent nutrition I am adding to my diet is superb.

The time is almost here when the fruit tree sales will start in earnest and I am planning on putting in a good number of new fruit trees here on the farm. Two years ago I rooted out a number of figs from a tree growing at my uncle Jacks homestead, I have 15 figs growing in different areas and in a couple of years I will be in fig heaven, I hope to do this with many other varieties, the prices are a bit high sometimes, but if the tree lives and makes it to fruit bearing age, you have an great resource for a long time to come.

I have almost collected all the parts I am going to need to erect the greenhouse; I scored from a neighbor almost all the pipe I was looking for. The old ones that I got with the deal were mostly rusted out, they were the thin wall type and I found some heavy gauge, this should last many, many years. I think I have all the structural components and now I’ll be saving up for a 6 mill Infrared Anti-Condensate Thermal Greenhouse Film, 32 x 100 roll. That will put me in the growing in cold weather business and allow me to get started much earlier than I have in the past and allow me to grow out a bunch of the plants I want to add to the mix.

I feel it is imperative to have as many different types of food growing, veggies, fruits, nuts, berries, herbs, spices, grapes, mushrooms. One day I hope to be 100% self sufficient when it comes to food. With the lake as source of fish, the rabbits and chickens I keep and the mushrooms I gather, I have most if not all of the protein I will need. Yea, most likely I could survive on what’s growing hear now, but then I love variety and Blue Bell…J So I guess I need to keep planting and growing till I run out of space or someone stops me. Before the 1st of the year I hope to bring in a load of fresh cut sweet gum, with all the oyster mushrooms I am finding I plan on trying a bit of tree splicing. I’ll be cutting the logs into 1 ft sections and stacking them in a vertical tower like system, 10 – 4 ft sections and lined up just outside my oyster mushroom bed, I’ll be putting a few mushrooms in-between each section of the log and stacking them up, then tacking a piece of red oak on the side to stabilize them. That should produce shrooms come next year and for 2 or 3 years to come.


Well, I guess I won’t see you folks until next year, hope your Christmas was a good one and don’t forget those new years resolutions. Mine is to get the green house constructed and covered by the end of January 2014. Lots to do, lots to do!


Robert Patrick

Master Gardener – Master Naturalist – Wild crafter (Medicinals & Edibles)

Amateur Mycologist – Custom Furnishings