Just before the snow arrives…

Judging by the weather forecast, the world is ending on Friday. The Mayans knew nothing; Derek (BBC Wales weatherman and living legend) knows everything.

So I took a quick tour around the garden before it disappears under snow and Antarctic research scientists, penguins and/or polar bears, covering all possible bases here (or poles at least), as the weather forecasters also appear to be doing. And I discovered that I still have vegetables…


I did not plant this chicory / endive / radicchio (I never know what to call these). I did, however, empty one of my spent troughs of salad leaves on this bed last spring. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for this mystery appearance, anyway. Unless my garden has been visited by the chicory / endive / radicchio fairy. It’s slightly frosted, but it’s fine.

And so is some of the leaf beet,

leaf beet

and looking remarkably good, considering that the ******* slugs ate the ******** lot earlier in the year. I can feel a stir-fry coming on, especially as I saw some spring onions trying to hide among all the weeds left in the main veg patch. I’ll have those, too.

I can even do mushrooms:


though I don’t think this is edible, mind. I can’t identify this bracket fungus, so suggestions, please. I’ve been out there with my Roger Phillips, and it doesn’t look like any of his images though that may be because it’s so young and fresh. It’s growing on one of my ashes, on the back half which died off for no very good reason a few years ago. The rest of the tree is fine, thanks – flourishing, in fact.

I’d better pick the chicory / whatever and the leaf beet tomorrow. The flowers that are coming up – snowdrops, primroses, daffs just showing their buds – will all cope in the freezing blast, but I’m not so sanguine about my surprise harvest. I’ll cope too, because we’ve been shifting logs into the greenhouse

squirrel store

to dry out, and a friend gave me an old bookcase, untreated pine, which will make great kindling. Well, what else am I going to use an unheated greenhouse for at this time of year, other than the storage of some geraniums which I can’t squeeze in the house? I’m operating on a ‘survival of the fittest’ basis here, and some plants do make it through. (The answer to the question, to explain the mess at the back, is also ‘the storage of unwashed sheep fleece stashed in old pillowcases’ but I do realise that this use of an unheated greenhouse is a little specialist. There is, however, no way on all the earth that unwashed fleeces are coming any closer to the house than this. Ergh.)

So I’m ready. Come on then, snow, do your worst.

Or maybe I’ll have called its bluff, and we won’t get any. Hmm.


27 thoughts on “Just before the snow arrives…

  1. Christina

    Lucky you, I’m pretty sure that your mushroom is an Oyster, Pleurotus ostreatus, page 182 in my copy of Phillips! They are delicious. Best cooked by frying gill side down to begin, then turning onto the cap to retain all the lovely juices and flavour. They always grow on dead wood, they are always in the shops here. Do look carefully though. Christina

  2. paulinemulligan

    Amazing what survives and pops up when we least expect it, hope they provided a nice meal for you. Hope your mushroom turns out to be an oyster like Christina says, but do be careful!!!

    1. kate Post author

      I will – but what state it’s in by now I’m not sure; even if it was originally edible, I’m not so sure after this weather (yuk). The chicory whatevers turned out to have been largely eaten from within – thought it was too good to be true!

  3. hillwards

    Hmm suspect it will be too late/dark/cold to rescue anything edible from our garden before impending snow hits properly (it has been trying consistently and gently since last night). The leeks (I hope), kale, sprouts and other brassica types are tough enough, not so sure about the pak choi and chard…

    1. kate Post author

      We’ve got rain at present, but it’s getting increasingly sleety. I’ve just moved half the log store into the house in the hopes that I’m ensuring better weather by doing so. We’ll see… tuck yourself up warm with a seed catalogue, like I will.

      No! No seed catalogues here! No!

  4. welshhillsagain

    I would love to know what you do with your mushroom. We have all sorts here and I go out identifying with my Philips and then inevitably wimp out and don’t cook them. This is not unconnected with the horror stories told to me by my son who is a doctor from when he worked in A&E. One day I am going to import a determined and cheery like minded soul and we shall eat!
    Hope your snow is not too bad. I have very mixed feelings about snow. In some ways I love it but it doesn’t half make life hard.

    1. kate Post author

      I have a feeling I shall be wimping out too. I keep promising myself a mycology course, but somehow it never seems to happen – there are only two I’m really confident about. Chanterelles, which I’ve been picking since I was almost the same height, and St George’s Mushrooms which grow round here on apet site I’m not going to advertise and which taste Fab. With my heritage you’d have thought I’d be good at mushrooming, mais non et aussi nyet.

      Snow… hmmm. I still haven’t moved my car down to the main road. I may be in denial, or convinced it’s not really coming. Oh, OK, I’m going to go and move the car… I like it for about a day and then it palls. But I do like it when the roof and veluxes are covered in snow and the house sort of cwtches up under it…

  5. Anna

    Plants never cease to amaze me with their will to live even in the direst conditions. Hope you enjoy the surprise stir fry and that you keep warm and cosy when the snow arrives. A few flakes this afternoon over the border in north Cheshire but no sign of any polar bears just yet. See you on the other side.

    1. kate Post author

      They’re amazing, aren’t they? Life finds a way, to quote Jurassic Park.

      On another note, I am going outside. I may be some time… (Captain Oates is going to move the car. It’s actually raining, not snowing yet, but we’ll draw a veil over that.)

  6. Dobby

    I too am trying to outwit the snow. I ordered wood to be delivered tomorrow, but wimped out and took the afternoon off work so that it could be delivered today. Was snowing hard in Traws when I left, but had turned to rain by the time I got down the hill. Haven’t moved the car down to the main road yet either. It is NOT going to snow that hard, and if it does, it will NOT stick to the road. Good luck with the mushrooms!

    1. kate Post author

      I hope you’re right, but they’re getting more and more accurate with forecasts like this now… One of the drivers in the yard lives about 200m uphill from me; he had a blizzard yesterday evening. Just saying.

      All my baby snowdrops! Poor little things!

      1. Dobby

        I’ve just watched Derek the weather god, and I think we are in for it. Can’t move the car now as I’ve had a glass of wine! At least we will both keep warm:-)

  7. Helen Johnstone

    I have given in to the forthcoming snow which has just started to fall. The kitchen cupboards are full, I have work to do from home so that that – I will re-emerge on Monday, maybe.
    How fascinating that the chicory/endive thingymajig appeared – I grew some last year but then I decided I wasnt actually that keen on their bitter flavour but they did look fab on the allotment!

    1. kate Post author

      The temperature is dropping like a stone here. I’m stocked up too, I’ve got extra logs in and now I have my wellies from the car – well, let it come!

      Agree with you about the chicory thing – they do look wonderful. Rather like purple sprouts, they look so much better than they taste. I say this at the risk of reopening the Great Sprout Debate, mind…

  8. Cathy

    Hope you have now had a tummy-full of stir fry to set you up for the impending whatever and that you have brought in enough logs to see you through to the bitter end. Are the weather forecasters just preparing us to be prepared if necessary, or are they seriously expecting snow like we’ve not seen for ages? There seems to be so much talk of stocking up, etc. Hmm – that moment when you first look out of the window in the morning when you have been expecting snow… will it, won’t it…?

  9. kate Post author

    It does sound very ominous, doesn’t it? My natural scepticism would kick in if it wasn’t for the last big snow in December 2010 – the forecasters got it right for round here almost to the hour, and my hill was next-to impassable for days.

    Having said that, I am absurdly excited.

    (That state will last for about 10 seconds, or until I land on my bum for the first time. Wonder if I can remember the art of safe sliding – sit down before you fall down?)

  10. Karen - An Artist's Garden

    I woke this morning with a childish glee at the thought that we might have snow – but no, just a thin covering on the roof tops and icy rain – but the wind ….. well that will be enough to prevent me going to the studio today, it is bitter.
    Please dont land on your bum – you know what happened last time you fell over …

    1. kate Post author

      Morre snow than rain with me, but my lord it is freezing cold. Yikes and triple yikes, that will be the end of my mushroom…

  11. Tuckshop Gardener

    The snow has landed here in Birmingham and is still coming down. Can only do virtual gardening at present! Your greenhouse looks in better order than mine – I have Sept sown annuals in there, and they coped well with the last frosts, but not sure if they’ll survive this prolonged spell. We’ll see.

    1. kate Post author

      It’s amazing here – not much lying snow but the wind is incredible. I just tried to go out and almost got blown over – had to grab some ivy. That, combined with the icy slushy snow, is conspiring to ensure that I stay in and look at seed catalogues. Wrong, look at inspring books. Not seed catalogues. No way.

      Best wishes for your poor annuals!

  12. wellywoman

    I love Derek and he certainly got it right. Plenty of snow here. The garden looks a real picture. At least my garden is one place where people aren’t shovelling and gritting furiously. The village which looked beautiful this morning is a right mess now. Brown slushy stuff on the road and heaps of snow piled high which will take forever to melt. The last time we had lots of snow we still had remnants of the snow piles at Easter!! Unwashed sheep fleece??? Enjoy the snow.

    1. kate Post author

      He didn’t get out hideous wind quite right though… our snow’s a bit on the mean side (don’t get me wrong, that’s not a complaint) but we do have astonishing winds. They appear to be roaring down the slopes of Moelfre above the village – I think the technical term is katabatic wind or something like that – and perfectly illustrating why none of the old houses have windows on that side, and why the very oldest are tucked into shelter. Brrrrrr.

      Unwashed sheep fleece: I’m a spinner. Sometimes.

  13. Janet/Plantaliscious

    Greenhouse are so very useful, and having experienced the stench (“smell” is too small a word) of unwashed sheep fleece, what an excellent place to hide one! I am rather struck by the idea of an endive fairy, but I am off to read your snowy post.

    1. kate Post author

      Yes, I’ll go with you on stench. They were in the old ty bach, but there’s a leak and if there’s one thing worse than unwashed fleece, it’s wet and mouldy unwashed fleece. Ergh…


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