The farm garden in the cycle of the year: The peace of winter

The first snow has fallen and covered the landscape with its glittering blanket. Everything seems quieter, the air fresher. Time for my fourth and thus last "farm garden blog visit" to the Buschberghof in Eben im Pongau. I am already curious about the role the garden will play in winter and how Elisabeth will use the quiet time.As it is quite frosty outside, we first take a seat in the cosy living room. On the table there is already a thick book on gardening, in which the farmer's wife has been consulting again and again for years and finding helpful tips and tricks. Now that the harvest is over and the garden is slumbering and regenerating under the blanket of snow, Elisabeth also finds some peace. Now she finds time to review the year. "In winter it gets quiet, and you feel a great sense of gratitude for everything that the garden has given you again". Every year, the farmer learns anew from good harvests and failures and takes these lessons with her into the new year.

With the onset of winter, however, there is still some work to be done. The currant bushes need to be tied up tightly, the old branches of the blackberries removed, and the new ones attached. To protect the fruit trees from "going into sap" too early in late winter and freezing in the cold nights, Elisabeth sprays them with lime about 15 cm above the ground. The white lime reflects the deceptively warm sunlight, and the tree heats up less. In addition, she protects the roots and the flowers around it from the cold with spruce branches. The few vegetables and herbs that have not yet been harvested are covered with fleece. For the first time, the farmer's wife is trying to overwinter a rosemary vine in this way. Carrots and parsley canes also survive the winter this way. The parsley vine can grow and be harvested much earlier than the newly sown plants. She has removed the old, large leaves from the strawberry canes so that the snow does not push the plants down from the stepped beds.
It is not only the plants that need protection in winter. Elisabeth also takes care of beneficial insects now - she offers hedgehogs a safe place to hibernate and makes sure that her prickly friends cannot get tangled up or fall in anywhere. The birds enjoy the food in the bird house or dried fruit on the bushes that Elisabeth has not harvested. She also does not wash out the loose stone walls so that the hiding places of the lizards and slow worms are not destroyed, and they can move back in next year. However, she removes the eggs of snails, which are mainly found under stone slabs, if possible now. When the fog begins to lift, we venture out after all. Elisabeth wants to show me something special. In the shelter of the porch and the house wall, the roses have started to bloom again due to the warm autumn and delight the Jäger family with their splendour even in December. She still leads me through the storage rooms in the cellar, where she stores potatoes, tomatoes, winter lettuce and processed food - shelves of jars and bottles with homemade sauces, juices, jams and pickled vegetables. The currant jams will soon be used for baking biscuits - Christmas is not far away.
So now the time has come for the farmer's wife and the farm garden to enjoy their well-deserved rest, ready for the next spring awakening. It has been a wonderful and educational journey through the year, and I am very grateful that Elisabeth has allowed us to peek over her shoulder and share in her many years of valuable knowledge.
Which season did you enjoy the most? What did you learn from this trip to Elisabeth's farm garden throughout the year? Feel free to tell us in the comments!
photo credits: Angelika Pfuner_TVB Eben