Winter Gardening in Arkansas (Garlic, Kale, and More)

Mr. Code Junkie and I went back to his parents’ for Thanksgiving for a week and a half and we ate our weight in juicy turkey and delicious stuffings. It still feels like the parents’ house is the best since they have a stocked fridge full of wonderful surprises while our fridge looks like a college student short on money.

I had hoped my garden would hold up while I was gone because for a while there, it really was doing wonderful. The bak choy is producing every single day, the tomatoes are growing mad, and so are the peppers that I started in October! I had thought about putting a hoop house on this bed while I was gone but I looked at the forecast and it says it will go down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 Celsius), and I thought my plants can handle it.

Well, they did not.

According to my friend, the week we were gone, the temperature dipped down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius). Of all things, my calendula and lupine survived. The bak choy is struggling a little, but kale and cabbages seem to love the cold very much. 

I built a hoop house after watching this video by James Prigioni on Youtube and mine came out quite like his! Although I feel like his bed is probably a lot sturdier. According to Prigioni, the hoop house adds a zone and half which makes my zone (6A) 8 and a half! 

The garlic I planted in the fall (October-ish) all sprouted because we have had a fairly warm fall here in Northwest Arkansas. I forgot who recommended this seed company called Southern Exposure, but I got my garlic and some other seeds from this company and my sprouting rate has increased drastically compared to the seeds I buy from nurseries, or worse, Home Depot. I realized you can click on the little sun icon on the left column of the website and it shows all the seeds that are suitable for the South-East region (which isn’t exactly where I live but close enough). You can also filter by “Certified Organic,” “Heirloom,” and “From Small Farm.”

 

I recently got chatting with one of the guys who run a local orchard, and he introduced me to this rather rare fruit I have never heard before, pawpaws. This opened up a new door for me to explore all the fruit-growing hipsters of the world. After discussing with him, I decided to buy two Pawpaw trees and try it out. It takes 3 years for these trees to fruit, so I can practice my patience while I wait. I also read up on these from a book called For the Love of Pawpaws by Michael Judd. Apparently, my trees are descendants of the famous trees they cultivated from the University of Kentucky! They are supposed to taste like bananas + cantaloupe but each tree may produce a slightly different flavor of the fruit. And even crazier, there are pawpaw festivals

The reason I never heard about Pawpaws is that they have a very short shelf life (2-3 days) and cannot be transported like bananas, strawberries, and other fruits. The only way you can taste a pawpaw fruit is if you have a tree, or have a friend who has a tree! 

While there isn’t a lot going on in the garden in winter, I spent my time planning out next year’s garden layout! Learning from this year’s successes and failures (mostly failures and some dumb luck), I paired up different types of vegetables that are companions with each other, and only plant veggies I like to eat. I don’t know who I was kidding, planting beef-steak tomatoes and cucumbers thinking I would convert into a vegetarian overnight.

It is the time of year where we reflect, slow down, cook soups, spend time with loved ones, and gather our hopes for the new year (though we should always do all of these things!). I hope you are cherishing what you have and taking a break from the normal busy life to enjoy a bit of gardening in the winter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.