Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Taking stock after the bitter cold

There has been nothing but miserable, biting, bitter cold now for over two weeks. Here at my gardens it has been down to 21 degrees F or so every night but one for something like 18 days (I'm guessing on number of days here, sorry). Even worse, for most of those days it never got above freezing. My plants never have suffered so.

Here you see a photo of dead and withered leaves and branch tips on the Juanita tangerine. I won't know until spring how many of the branches survived. The lemon that was given to me to try, and my tiny Dunston grapefruit, seem to be killed down to the ground, but, again, I won't know for awhile.

Hit hard, but not as hard, are the leafy greens. Here you see the older leaves on the collards frozen and wilted, but the younger leaves look like they will make it through. The broccoli in the background, and the mustard greens in the other bed, look pretty sad. I'm guessing they are done for the year.

Since citrus fruits don't hold up well on the tree when it gets below 28 degrees or so, I harvested the last of the amazing tangerines and all the orangequats before the really cold nights settled in. What do you do with huge bags of orangequats? Well, many were mixed with tangerines and turned into tangerine/orangequat marmalade. Some were juiced, the juice frozen for later use as a lemon juice substitute, and the peels dried. I am especially excited about these dried peels, and how I might use them in cooking. Next year I plan to dry many, many more. The taste is amazing: sweet and citrusy and bitter.

Today the weather is supposed to break, at least for a bit. Night time lows only into the forties, and daytime highs into the fifties tomorrow. That will give me time to take stock before the next wave of winter strikes. Is it too early to be tired of winter?