Friday, December 18, 2015

The vegetable garden in a warm December

It's going to be pretty chilly tonight, but the forecast for the coming week sounds a lot like the rest of December - unseasonably warm, and not the slightest chance of a white Christmas. We are breaking records both locally and globally, spring flowers are bursting out all over again, and it's hard to decide what to wear. But what does it mean for the vegetable garden?

Well, first of all it depends a lot on exactly where you live. I'm in Germantown, in upper Montgomery County, where the October frost killed off all the summer vegetables in my community garden plot, no question. I still have some lovely fall vegetables producing - kale, cabbage, broccoli, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), lettuce, and the Swiss chard I planted in the spring. But I know that a lot of my down-county, inside-the-Beltway friends didn't lose their summer plants until November - and maybe they wouldn't have done so if they hadn't pulled them out (because surely the warm weather was over!). Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener magazine reported on Thanksgiving that she was still picking green beans from her Silver Spring garden. So what else is still out there, out of season?

MG Robin Ritterhoff sent me these photos taken this week in her Bethesda garden - first, alpine strawberries forming berries:


And one remaining volunteer cherry tomato with green fruits on it:


MG Pat Kenny (Silver Spring) reports: "Our peppadew, Bishop's Hat, peppers, C. baccatum var pendulum, are still dangling on the 6-foot+ tall plant. Green, some turning orange. When brought in, they turn red - deliciously sweet on outside until you get toward pungent center."

And we've got a report via the Capital Weather Gang of tomatoes and eggplants growing fruit somewhere in the DC area (scroll down past all the flowers - but the flowers are cool too!).

Anyone else have summer vegetables still going? Leave a comment!

Otherwise, fall vegetables are doing splendidly, like MG Cindy Walczak's just-picked radishes:


which came up from the seed of her spring-planted radishes. And MG LeeAnne Gelletly reports a huge patch of parsley:


as do several other Master Gardeners. MG Joy Adler reports "herbs are incredibly fresh, with new growth. Fat parsley clumps, high growth on sage, rosemary, budding on lavender." I've seen flowers recently on my lavender as well.

Unfortunately, winter weeds are doing extremely well too, so we will have our work cut out for us! Perhaps it would be smart to use some of that warm Christmas week weather to get out and do some hoeing. And we can also spend time contemplating this increasingly unpredictable weather and how it might affect our future garden planning.

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