Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Winter's Toll: What We Lost

As we have been cleaning up the gardens and the planting and growing areas over the past week or so, the first things we had to deal with were the fatalities from the unusually brutal winter.  As locals know, the past few winters in the Philadelphia area have been very mild.  This one just past, along with nearly six feet of snow, presented us with temperatures that dropped and stayed down.  Most morning walks with the dogs were completed in single digit temperatures. Along with ourselves, our garden took a beating, that's for sure.

For me, the most painful aspect of that "beating" is the age and longevity of those plantings that are no longer part of our garden.

Our nearly 20 year old Delaware White Azalea is gone.  Also our big Rosemary plant - we called her, "Rose, Senior" based on the 20 some years she was with us - is gone.  A tall, potted evergreen that came to us a number of years ago as a tiny Christmas plant did not make it. The big sage plant that was already in the ground when we bought the house over 18 years ago and was moved to our then new Herb Garden was merely a clump of dead wood when the snow finally melted away.  

It's not all doom and gloom of course.  Our bulbs are happily pushing through. Our garlic chives - toughest plants ever - are back and growing like mad already. Every morning there are more seedlings poking through all over the place. The sorrel making a comeback and the cole crops and early things that we planted in the cold frame are doing fine.

What I think speaks to the soul of us who "play in the dirt" is how attached to those lost plants it seems that I was.  This is reflected most clearly by the fact that I've yet to remove any of those that didn't make it through the Winter of 2014.  I know I have to - they're dead, I need the pots or planting areas, and they look pretty bad, being dead and all. And yet I continue to find reasons to do other things and leave the dearly departed where they, well, departed.

I'll deal with them, just not yet.  I need a little bit more time.

Quick Recipe Tip

Parsnip Chips

These are delicious by themselves and wonderful with hummus and other dips.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash, peel, and slice a parsnip into thin - very thin if you like - slices.  In a bowl, mix together grapeseed or any other neutral oil, some granulated garlic, a bit of smoked hot paprika and kosher salt. Toss the slices in this mixture until well coated and spread them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  

Keep an eye on them.  They should be crispy after 8 - 10 minutes.  

When you take them out of the oven, let them sit for a minute of two before serving. 

Good and good for you!  Enjoy.

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