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I wasn’t expecting carrots for Christmas, but here they are. I’d finally resolved to clean up the chard before the big snowstorm expected next week, and I found carrots hiding underneath. They appear perfectly edible.

004Carrots are the new favorite crop for me. They seem to keep fresh in the dirt indefinitely. If I have a busy week or month and fail to harvest them when they ripen, it’s not like they rot or go to seed or get bitter. They just kind of…hang out. Carrots are cool. They just keep chillin’ out there.

Chard became a problem this year because I planted Fordhook Giant instead of Bright Lights. When I started gardening, I planted Bright Lights because I wanted the veggie garden to be pleasing to look at; I had never eaten chard before I planted it! Bright Lights adds striking color to the rather monotonous green of a veggie garden. But this year, I wanted food production to come before beauty, so I chose the Giant. This turns out to be a mistake.

Bright Lights Chard:Chard in FullSun

The leaves of Fordhook Giant vary widely in size as it grows, the stems can become thick and massive, and the large leaves curl and seem to get damaged by wallowing in the dirt. In comparison, Bright Lights grows straight upward-reaching leaves that are easy to harvest, with more consistent size of both stem and leaf, and less damage to the larger outer leaves.

Fordhook Giant Chard:024Then there’s the spider issue. Garden spiders love to reside in my chard, and those curly leaves hide spiders and eggs which I don’t want to disturb accidentally. It scares the spiders and it scares me. We were all happier with nice straight chard leaves. Spiders are welcome in my garden, and they may be one of the reasons my carrots could stay in the ground so long without an infestation of carrot maggots. I rely on predatory insects since I don’t ever use chemicals.

Spider in the chardA few hours after composting chard and discovering carrots, snow began to fall. Another gift from the garden, snow provides moisture and insulation, and it’s just so pretty when it’s freshly fallen or coming down. Winter without snow is lame; I’m glad the snow came early. Shoveling will give me an excuse to get outside today, and appreciate the stark contrast between seasons. Shoveling snow makes springtime feel all the more glorious when it arrives.

These are the kinds of gifts I want for the holidays, and for every day: a small piece of land to cultivate, time to spend out of doors in silence and isolation, and the occasional surprise carrot.023

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