Gifts from the Winter Garden

Gifts from the Winter Garden

Gifts from the Winter Garden

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary Vol. 2
Week 2: January 16, 2022

Week 2 of January 2022 was surprisingly sunny and warm. So much is happening in the garden already. Sam and I have been feeling under the weather and it’s good to feel the sun on our skin.

The lush, heavy snow of Christmas and New Year’s is a memory; a few shady places still harbor shrinking “snowbergs.”

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves as Sam and I are both feeling under the weather this week.

Der Winter ist Da (Winter is Here)
Der Winter ist Da (Winter is Here) by Nora Scholly

This painting from Austria caught my eye. Somehow the artist conveyed both the coolness and coziness of snow in this piece – lovely!

Four overwintered cabbages, as beautiful and colorful as roses with a shimmering blush of violet on lacy “petals.” They definitely qualify as gifts from the winter garden.

I can hardly bear the thought of cutting them – but I will. Overwintered greens such as cabbages, kale, Brussels sprouts, and chard are usually more tender and sweet than their summer-grown counterparts. A real treat in the kitchen and on the dinner plate.

Just across the garden fence, Painted Desert sheep graze. The weight of the snow caused a section of the garden fence to collapse. Sam quickly shored it up with metal t-posts to prevent the sheep from grazing the garden. Real repairs will take place soon.

Hyacinths are just peeping above the soil in a metal planter that looks just like a basket. They were an impulse purchase from a big box store last winter and bloomed beautifully in a cheap pot. When they were finished blooming, I allowed the leaves to die down naturally and left the pot in the garden for several months. I recently translated the lot to this prettier receptacle and moved them to the greenhouse to “force.” Forcing means I am encouraging them to bloom sooner than they would naturally. The greenhouse will give them a head start and I will be enjoying another round of cheery, sweetly -scented flowers soon!

The carrots are destined for stew. In Oregon we can overwinter carrots right in the ground – no need to dig and store – as long as they’re well-mulched. The colder temps of winter impart wonderful sweetness to carrots, they will be as sweet as candy.

Toby and slipper
Toby the grumpy cat

Sam: Toby looks zen.

Me: Of course. He has destroyed everyone else’s zen and is content.

This after the second slipper was launched to break up a scuffle.

Bamboo cooking utensils

Super cute bamboo spoons with Chocolate Box Cottage on their brightly painted handles. Thanks for my friend Lifan for custom-crafting them for me!

Four pounds of unsalted butter was clarified to make ghee. Our store of healthy winter fat has been replenished.

Planting a tea camellia from seed
Planting a tea camellia from seed

What we know and drink as tea is made from fermented leaves from tea camellias, Camellia sinensis. I carefully saved seeds from my tea camellia last fall and planted them in half gallon pots with good quality potting soil and bunny berries. I hope to multiply my tea plants in order to produce enough for a few pots of tea. Doesn’t home-grown and home-processed tea sound utterly enchanting? It does to me!

You can order tea camellias for your garden here: Camellia sinensis.

Gifts from the Wild Winter Garden

Here in southern Oregon, it’s easy to find unsea – just look up. It hangs in spiderweb-like drifts from a variety of trees and is knocked loose by wind, rain, and snow. I gathered a generous amount that fell after our Christmas snow storm to share with friends. Usnea is commonly prepared as an alcohol-based tincture for a number of herbal purposes, which I encourage you to research. It also makes an attractive mulch for potted plants and hanging baskets.

items for olfactory training
items for olfactory training

If you’ve suffered a loss of smell and taste after a bout with the “spicy flu” there is help. A technique known as olfactory retraining (or olfactory training, depending on the source) can help you restore this important sense.

Thank you for stopping by for a visit! If you have a few minutes of leisure, take a peek at some lovely pictures of our New Year’s snow and icicles.

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