A Winter Garden

Mild winters are one of my favorite things about living in the Deep South. Blizzards and subzero temperatures are extremely rare, and cold spells never last for more than a few days. Clear, sunny skies and highs well above freezing are the norm.

In Kentucky, hard freezes in mid-to-late October pretty much put an end to the garden. November, December, and January were dedicated to plotting and scheming for the coming season. With few exceptions, nothing blooms until the early season bulbs come up in late January and early February.

The growing season in Athens is much longer. Something is blooming just about all year. Camellias carry much of the load from November to March, with numerous others contributing for a few weeks throughout the season.

Flowers are the focus. I usually put out some pansies and other hardy annuals in the fall. When the weather’s nice, I’ll pop into a garden center to look around. Anything too nice to pass up ends up somewhere in my garden.

My attempts at vegetable gardening are haphazard and sporadic. I usually plant seeds for cool season veggies around Ground Hog’s Day. It’s a gamble. Most burn up in the heat before they’re big enough to eat.

The experts predict an unusually mild winter here in Athens — news that prompted the desire to plant some vegetables for the winter. I picked up 6-packs of broccoli, cauliflower, and collards from the garden center along with some violas and snapdragons I couldn’t resist.

I ended up ordering seed after finding none at the garden centers. Most selections can handle temperatures into the twenties. As long as it doesn’t get much colder than that for very long, I can cover stuff up to keep it from freezing.

Maybe I’ll harvest something, maybe I won’t. Time will tell. I’ll keep you posted.