I left cleaning up the garden to Sunday this weekend because it was the warmer of the two days. Unfortunately I completely forgot about a historical sewing seminar I was scheduled to attend from noon to 5 (ask me about sleeve evolution) until late last night, so as soon as I got up this morning, I went into the yard.

I wasted part of my precious hour and a half putting away pots and righting the greenhouse, though I fully expect it to be blown over again. (What? I sleep late.) Also beating my nice leather gloves that had been coated in mud when I planted the garlic and left to dry, so that they were caked in cracked dust. Then I came to my senses and actually went to a garden.

I pulled out the remaining brassicas except for the two Dwarf Curled Vates plants that were still upright and cheerful. Everything else was limp. I wanted to leave the Red Russian kale for seed next year, but they’re all slumped over in the path and it drove me crazy enough this year, so I yanked them. I also pulled the lone Romanesco broccoli plant that survived. It grew enormously, but when I looked into its heart leaves broke off left and right and only a tiny pale spear rose up from the base, maybe half an inch across. I piled vegetable corpses atop the space where the borage failed to thrive with the plan of moving them once the compost box is reinstalled. I ate a frozen raspberry. I really hoped the weeds would all die over the winter.

I had noticed in digging out the brassicas that the ground was frozen, so I proceeded, cautiously, to the carrots. First the newest ones, planted in the summer. They were small, snack-size, and they were mercilessly frozen. I managed to heave some chunks of icy earth with carrots embedded in them. I left them for the Big Top carrots. These I’ve really loved; they taste good and they look like carrots should, long and angular rather than big and fat like the ones in the raised bed in the vegetable garden. I don’t know whether it’s the variety or the situation; next year I’m going to grow these in the raised bed and find out.

The Big Top carrots came out more easily, but not easily. I heaved them out and chipped at the mud and ice around them. I sliced into several of them, bisected a few. I felt like a really, really bad archaeologist. But I got some great, beefy, sweet carrots. (I’ve notice that a dirty carrot only tastes good outdoors. Indoors, it just tastes dirty.) I went back to the little carrots and excavated them, too, and noticed that the ground was less frozen near the fence. I don’t know why.

Then I moved to the vegetable garden, where the dirt in the raised bed wasn’t even slightly pliable for inches and inches down. So I dug up more chunks of dirt and carrot. I had originally thought I’d leave some carrots in the ground longer, but the frozenness of the ground changed my mind. When people talk about digging carrots out from under the snow, I don’t think this is what they’re talking about.

I ended up with a grocery bag full of carrots, plus a couple of parsley roots, a full head of parsley, a parsnip (I would have gotten the others minus one or two, but I ran out of time), and a last broccoli floret that had either grown quickly or been missed by me when I went out to cut them. I don’t know if this many carrots will be enough; I suspect not, since my definition of enough is “enough to last until we harvest the first carrots next year” and we have a long winter of soups and stews ahead of us. But that’s all right; I’m still learning as I go. Lesson learned: bring in the carrots sooner. I was never meant to be an archaeologist.

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