This year, we’re ready to expand a bit more, grow a few more varieties, and plant more of everything.
We’re still eating some frozen veggies and using dried herbs from last year but ran out of other things months ago.
This time, we want to grow enough for the full year.
We like starting our plants from seed.
Last year we were limited to four south-facing windowsills.
This year we attached lights to the underside of some closet shelves.
We’ll be able to get quite a few seeds going.
It’s not too late to start!
We’re planting the first seeds this week.
How about you? Will you be growing some food in your country gardens this year?
We’d love to hear about your plans in the Comments.
The Fruit Gardener’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruits and Nuts in the Home Garden
Gardening in the Snow
Yes, I have been gardening in the snow. I’m not talking about checking the garlic plants under their deep white bed.
And unfortunately, we didn’t get around to fixing up a cold frame and no longer have fall stragglers surviving in our raised garden bed.
The other day I was out in the snow sowing seeds!
Last summer and fall, I collected seeds from several types of wildflowers growing on our property.
I wanted to plant them in a few areas around our living area where our clearing and leveling had eradicated whatever was growing there before.
Only the lupines seemed to survive the turmoil of the soil.
I’d planned to plant the wildflower seeds in the fall, but our chickens were having such fun wandering around in the fall sunshine that I didn’t want to pen them up yet.
And I knew they’d eat any flower seeds they could find.
It’s kind of a good thing I didn’t sow seeds in the fall, because we had an unusually dry period between November and January.
Gardening with Heavy Snowfalls
Heavy snowfalls just didn’t come.
Seeds would have been sitting on the ground in plain sight.
I can pen up my chickens, but the wild birds are another story.
They would have scarfed up any seeds they found.
It seems like spring planting time is just around the corner.
But some of my seeds need to have a cold winter nap.
They actually benefit from several weeks of chilling.
This part of the dormancy phase, called stratification, can be artificially provided in a refrigerator or a cold building.
But when possible, I prefer to let nature do its job.
Where we live, it’s common to scatter hardy seeds before the first big snowstorm of the fall.
In a normal year, the seeds literally chill out under a layer of snow much of the winter.
As the snow melts, it carries the seeds down into the soil, moistening and softening the seed coats.
The seeds settle there and wait for spring thaws to wake them up.
As it turned out, this was not a normal winter.
But finally now in mid-January we are getting another wave of measurable snowfall.
So in between storms, I went out and raked snow away, scattered the seeds, and raked some snow back over them.
Sure enough, the next snowfall settled that layer down and nicely tucked the seeds in for a chilly snooze.
I can’t even tell there are seeds under there, can you?
I don’t think the chickens will, either!
Hopefully I’ll see green sprouts in the spring and a variety of wildflowers all summer.
If not, there’s always next year!
Celebrating Real Food!
You know, eating real food that’s real good for you.
According to the Food Day website
“Food Day’s goal is nothing less than to transform the American diet—to inspire a broad movement involving people from every corner of our land who want healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.
In other words, we want America to eat real.
We want to get Americans cooking real food for their families again.
We want fewer people at drive-through and bigger crowds at farmers markets.
Let’s celebrate fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains—and to support the local farms and farmers that produce them.
Wouldn’t it be great for all Americans—regardless of their age or income or geographic location—to be able to select healthy diets and avoid obesity, heart disease, and other diet-related conditions?!”
In a similar vein, Slow Food USA recently launched a $5 challenge: create a SLOW FOOD meal for $5 or less, the cost of a FAST FOOD meal.
“The organization, a national non-profit working for good, clean and fair food for all, is encouraging people across the country to cook slow food that costs no more than five dollars per person.
Slow food – the opposite of fast food – is food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.
“Slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food.
It’s time we take back the ‘Value Meal,’” said Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA.
Slow Food’s challenge and Food Day got me thinking of a further challenge: Create a slow food meal of local foods for $5 or less.
And then, an extended challenge: if we’ve raised our own meat and produce, how about creating a slow food meal of homegrown foods for $5 or less?
I’m up for the challenge! How about you?
Start by thinking about what you may have grown yourself and what’s available locally from neighbors, farmers’ markets, or savvy supermarkets that stock local products.
Be creative—how can you combine some of those products into a tasty and satisfying meal?
Granted, this might have been easier during the summer when many backyard gardens were producing fresh salad ingredients and farmers’ markets were at their prime.
But still there are stored or processed foods and fall-growing crops to help.
Here are some examples:
A soup or stew can be created with several different veggies.
Add a local source of protein—eggs, cheese, legumes, meat, poultry, or game—and you’ve got a complete meal.
Ditto with a main dish salad, especially if you’ve still got greens and other veggies growing.
If you are a fan of bread or rolls with every meal, one of the challenges might be finding local flour or grain to grind.
If you can’t think of a substitute and must have your bread, at least you can make most of your meal with local ingredients.
As I’m writing this, I’m planning a Food Day $5 homegrown slow food meal. My experimental patch of soup beans was not a stellar success, but I did manage to get enough beans for one pot of soup.
We had a good crop of potatoes and several other veggies and herbs.
To complement the beans’ protein I can also choose from eggs and meat from our own chickens.
This is the first year I could ever say this, but from garlic and onions to chicken and beans, we can create a tasty hot meal using only ingredients from our backyard.
If I hadn’t raised enough myself, I could buy other locally grown products in my community.
If the local grocery stores all shut down, we’d still be able to eat some good meals.
That’s a good feeling!
Extended-season gardening information
Thinking about starting your plants early in the spring?
Want to make harvest last longer in the fall?
Wish you could pick fresh greens in the middle of winter?
Extended season gardening for Growing Fresh Vegetable in Fall and Winter
Many of these concepts and materials will also work in spring.
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour
Four Season Harvest
The Winter Harvest Handbook
Sow Seeds for Fall Garden from National Garden Bureau at GRIT Magazine