January is considered by most to be the start of a new gardening year. But, for me, it is just one more month in my love of gardening. In preparation for Christmas, cedar, pine, fir and Oregon grape prunings were added to our flowerpots to create displays for our winter garden. In a usual year, pathways through the garden are kept clear of snow, to allow us to enjoy leisurely strolls enjoying the fairy lights adorning each of the flowerpots. Bird feeders and the bird bath are also kept filled, enticing our feathered friends to linger in garden.
Growing up on a farm meant that we raised most of our own food. Our diet was controlled by the seasons. Fresh January produce may be limited to cabbage, endives, celery and squashes, but this also gave our family incentive to create winter menus including the making of gnocchi. Pumpkins are used in our garden as October and November decorations. In December, some of these pumpkins are used for making our Christmas pumpkin loaves that are given as gifts. By January, the last of our pumpkins are used for making gnocchi. A “agile e olio con pepe” sauce is made from tomatoes canned last fall, garlic harvested, braided and hanging in the garage and hot peppers that were dried and crushed. The gnocchi, sprinkled with fresh basil growing in the windowsill and served with a glass of wine, is a perfect tribute to our gardens, asleep for January, but still in our hearts.