There was a hard frost this morning and I had to scrape the glittering crust from my windshield before heading off for my run at the gym. The breeze is icy. Even the sunlight has taken on a cold silver hue. Winter has come at last. In this season of quiet sleep, I often chafe at what seems to be a complete stasis of all our projects, even though I know there is quiet growth deep within....the results of which will burst forth with a vigor impossible without this time of dormancy. This is a yearly battle for me, to be patient and accept this rest and refreshment as the blessing it is rather than simply an impediment to my plans.
The plants are also tucked away for a quiet winter's nap. I have pruned the hardy kiwi's all the way back to a single 3" stem in each pot, knowing they will shoot eagerly from a strong, mature root system next Spring. I may have delayed fruiting by a year, but I have changed my mind about the way I wanted them twined on the trellis. So next summer, the kiwis will be carefully trained to my new plan. The pots are filled with crisp, fluffy maple leaves to hold moisture and protect the plants from drying winds.
The strawberry barrels also received an unusual bit of pampering this year. I replaced the Ozark Beauty plants this spring with the more hardy Jewel and Ft. Laramie varieties and promptly left them to fend for themselves during a very dry summer. The third that survived are obviously the hardiest of the bunch and I used runners from these plants to fill in the empty pockets. Thus far I have not had the best of luck keeping the plants alive during the winter. I do not believe it is simply the cold, strawberries are very shallow rooted plants and freeze solid in most climates, but rather that the plants dry out in the well drained barrels. So this year I've tried tucking partially decomposed straw (the remnants of my failed straw bale beds) in each pocket to protect the exposed crowns from drying out. Hopefully that works, but there's only one way to find out.
Perhaps I'll even remember to water them during a few winter thaws...