Most people rarely even think of gardening during the month of December. It is even a little early for the average gardener to order seeds.
Fortunately we do not have average winter weather here on the mainland near North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. The Crystal Coast, sometimes called the Southern Outer Banks, is that strand of sand from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle that extends westward from Cape Lookout towards Swansboro.
The biggest challenge for small home gardens near the coast is finding some time when the soil can rest. It is not easy when most of your year is frost free.
We often plant our summer tomato plants around the middle of March. If we have have a nice winter, it is not unusual for us to be harvesting lettuce and other cold weather crops from November through April. It is a great problem to have.
While I sometimes lose sight of all the wonderful winter vegetables in the pile of tomatoes that take over our kitchen counters starting sometimes even earlier than the first of June, I do really appreciate the taste of fresh lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and even rutabagas in the winter.
This year we are experimenting with a row of English peas which we planted in October. The peas are just now blooming on December 17. While we will need some warm weather to get peas, our forecast looks very good for the next couple of weeks. Eleven days between now and January 2, will have temperatures in the mid-fifties. There will be another three days where the temperatures make it into the mid-sixties and we have two days that we should reach into the seventies. That should be good weather for growing peas since there are only a couple of nights when we get down as low as 30F.
With weather like we have, you can let your imagination run wild. I make our compost and used some during the late summer to help some new sod get a good start. Sometime in September I noticed that I had some tomato plants growing where I had put down the new sod. In November I transplanted a couple to pots and put a third one in the ground between our bulkhead and the water of Raymond’s Gut.
The two in pots have done very well and one even has green tomatoes. I am fairly sure that they are Husky cherry tomatoes. With some luck we might have some ripe January tomatoes. I finally had to move the one by the water into a pot after the coldest night of the year damaged some of its foliage. It seems to be recovering and who knows what it might do here in the warmth of the Crystal Coast.