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by Nicole Wines

The early part of the winter of 2015 will be known as one of the warmest on record for the Northeast US, the temperate region where our gardens plots and other EcoCulture projects are currently located. The last few weeks have brought about a burst of color, seldom seen in December in Central NJ. Roses, calendula, daisies, thyme, marjoram, all still growing, blooming, and producing.

December Flowers
December flowers in bloom in the Raíces EcoCulture MicroFarm gardens. The red flower in the center is a ganzania daisy. All other flowers are different varieties of calendula.

While it does feel rather strange to have “spring” in December, we are taking advantage of the mild weather to continue harvesting fresh herbs to dry and for making tinctures, seeds for the Raíces Seed Library, and some fall greens for us and the Raíces chickens!

We will see in the spring how the warm and mild December affects our gardening season and the natural seasonal cycles in 2016. It is a bit worrisome, seeing spring bulb shoots and cherry blossoms on the trees a whole three months early, while some of our summer flower plants are still flourishing from the season before. But nature is resilient and will have much to teach us about adapting and adjusting to these seasonal aberrations if we just observe and listen. In the meantime, I’ll keep taking advantage of the mild temperatures and get in as much outside work as possible before the cold (hopefully) sets in!

What changes or oddities have you observed because of the warm weather in your yard or garden?  What is still growing that would normally be long gone by year’s end? Leave a comment and let’s get dialoguing.


I took some walks around my town and my own backyard over the past week and collected some more “signs of spring” in December:

English Daisy
This was the single English Daisy flower that bloomed for us on Christmas day.
Christmas Tomato Harvest
These amazingly delicious gold cherry tomatoes were harvested on Christmas Day! While all the tomatoes in the fields and gardens died back in October and November, the plant these tomatoes came from was in a container on a screened in porch and a little more protected from the frosts we experienced earlier in the season. It sprouted in August and grew throughout the fall. These were the first and last tomatoes to be harvested from the plant.
Daffodils blooming - December 27, 2015
Daffodil patch blooming on December 27, 2015.
Honeybee Gathering Pollen - December 27, 2015
This busy lady was spotted in my backyard on December 27, gathering pollen from a broccoli plant that my neighbor left in the pot once it began to flower. I’m happy she left it as it provided a nice late season snack for this honeybee to bring home to the hive. Judging from the pollen she had already collected, there really are many flowers blooming in our area, completely out of season.
Iris Shoots - December 27, 2016
Iris Shoots – December 27, 2016
Myrtle Flower
Myrtle vines blossoming. This invasive groundcover is usually an early/cold weather bloomer so I wasn’t completely surprised to see it peaking out from under a neighbor’s leaf pile.
Daffodil Patch In Bloom - December 27, 2016
Daffodil patch in bloom, Highland Park, NJ – December 27, 2016


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