All that remains (of a winter garden)

All that remains (of a winter garden)

Alternate title: pick plants that don’t need much.

When I get inspired to do something, I want to do it immediately. (Still learning patience in my 3rd decade.) So when I decided I wanted to garden, I started gardening… in late October. From my post back then, the benefits were cheap plants and minimal watering requirements. The downside has turned out to be a long, cold winter. It’s unusual for Vancouver to get lasting sub-zero temps, but this winter broke all kinds of records.

For the most part, I left my garden alone from November through February. I watered it when things looked dry (on average every 2 weeks). I poked around and worried about cloches and cold frames when there was snow on the ground (and then did nothing about it). I left it up to Darwin, and the fittest survived. (Note: my garden is under cover and plants in pots, so while there were periods of frost, they were never buried in snow nor was the ground ever fully frozen.)

Here’s the plant status, come mid-March.

Rosemary – woody, brown-looking, but surviving.


Parsley – died.

Chives – thriving! Good job, chives.

Mint – it looked dead, and I cut it back before noticing a tiny tendril. I gave it some water and as the days have (barely) warmed up, more leaves are emerging. Apparently mint is hard to kill, so I’m glad to see the comeback.

Beets – dead.

Cabbage – dead.

Kale – surviving! Although a little long and spindly, even thriving? I’ve been cutting the leaves and making my go-to massaged kale salad (recipe below) whenever I’m home alone, and these plants just won’t quit.


Garlic – emerging! I planted six, and four are coming through. Apparently I’ll be able to harvest in the mid-summer.

Blueberries – leaves and buds are emerging. They looked quite sadΒ for a while, but a little sun and a little water has brought them back. There were dozens of canes across the two plants that looked dead, but all now have buds appearing.

Currant/gooseberry – these looked like sticks in dirt for months, but in the first two weeks of March green leaves and buds have emerged on both plants! (I also forgot to indicate which was which, so as soon as there are a few more leaves, flowers or berries I’ll do some Googling to see what is what.)

All in all, a healthy 8/12 survival rate. My thumb is not green, so that is due entirely to relying about the helpful staff at the garden store about the hardiest of plants to overwinter. Always listen to your garden store staff.

And now, onto the next project – nurturing the winter plants into spring and summer production, and planning my ‘real’ garden. Plus a bonus simple recipe for the best simple kale salad.

Kale Salad


  • As many kale leaves as you want
  • Roasted veg to top – cauliflower is great


  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard
  • Maple syrup
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Wash and tear up your kale leaves
  2. Roast your veg, if using. In our convection oven we put the temp to 425, and they roast (drizzled in oil, salted and peppered and sometimes seasoned with sumac, cumin and smoked paprika) in about 20 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over your kale – enough to coat, but not so much as to leave a pool at the bottom.
  4. With your hands, squeeze and massage the liquid into the kale. It seems ridiculous, but massaging kale is key to getting rid of some of the bitterness and creating a beautiful tasting green.
  5. Once it’s suitably massaged (ie wilted down), add in a drizzle of maple syrup and a spoonful of dijon mustard, and mix well.
  6. Top with the roasted veg.


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