Sunday, December 19, 2010


The snow has been falling for a week now and although we haven't had the record breaking accumulations of other parts of the province, winter has definitely arrived. With daytime temps hovering near or below freezing, signs of life in the garden are gone. But here in the sunporch things are cozy and warm and the southwestern exposure gives maximum daylight now that that trees are bare. I've been able to overwinter many plants in this space and most of them do quite well. Along with the usual tropical plants I have a cayenne and a golden habanero pepper that are almost 4 years old now and the rosemary is on it's second winter. The chili peppers behave much like a deciduous shrub indoors- they lose all their leaves and end up looking like a bunch of green sticks. But if you look closely you can see new leaves already forming and one last habanero pepper is still hanging in.

There's a couple of new additions to the plant menagerie this winter and they are all volunteers. The avocado sprouted in the compost early last year but got snapped off by a squirrel. I saved it just in case and am happy to report it has all new growth. I also have a lemon tree! A number of lemon pips sprouted in the worm bin before I found out that the worms don't like citrus; I saved a few and this one seems very happy in the window. But the biggest surprise is the tomato seedlings! Likely another gift from a squirrel, a whole bunch of them sprouted once I brought the planter indoors. I didn't have the heart to rip them all out but I thinned their numbers to two thinking they would probably not survive in any case. Well apparently they have every intention of sticking around. We are two days till the solstice which means they are getting a scant 9 hours of daylight, yet they don't appear to be overly light deprived. The stems are fairly sturdy and well leafed and they are large enough now to be transplanted into their own pots. Which maybe an issue since all of my potting soil is currently outside frozen solid. I may have to purchase some if I hope to keep them growing but at least I have lots of worm castings from the worm farm. How hilarious would it be to have my own 'hothouse' tomatoes in early spring?

Having living green things around through the long winter months is so important in so many ways. They act as mini air filtres, clearing the air of it's buildup of CO2 and pumping out fresh oxygen. They also add humidity to the hot dry air pumped out by the furnace. But it's their symbol of life in the dark days of winter that helps the most; knowing that life survives even then gives hope that spring will come again and we will feast on warmth and sushine.

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