Gardening Doesn’t Stop In The Winter
Now that the Christmas season is over and the shortest days of the year are behind us, we always find ourselves thinking of spring. We really enjoy winter sports like ice fishing. Catching up on inside projects is always rewarding, but our brains can’t stop thinking of getting our hands in the dirt. In reality, we are not far away from doing just that. This year more than ever we are starting our planning early. Because of recent runs on essential items, we have been ordering our usual supplies early and planning ahead. While we always save some seeds from heirloom varieties of vegetables, we always need to order new seeds for hybrids or any vegetables that are easily cross pollinated. This is what we saved from last year.
For the last several years, we have been ordering our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. www.rareseeds.com We simply love their catalog and huge variety of old favorites and exciting new varieties. They also give you some history of each seed. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but this one is a thing of beauty!
There is nothing like sitting with your favorite hot beverage (we prefer Hot Toddies) and pouring over page after page of vegetable seeds. Make sure you check out our recipe page for The Hot Toddy recipe. We will order our onion plants from http://www.dixondalefarms.com as early as we can. You can schedule delivery so the plants arrive at just the right time, which is very convenient since we are all in such different gardening zones. I think that one of the happiest times of the year is the day that our seed order arrives, it’s hard to believe that one envelope could bring so much joy. They say, “to plant a seed is to believe in the future” and thinking of our future garden brings smiles to our faces.
This year we decided to get organized. We have always kept our loose seeds in various mason jars and the packets in a shoe box. Seeds would spill out and we would not really know exactly what we had. We were determined to make this year different. We already had a binder with photo pages in it that came in a lot we won at an auction. It just made sense to put the seed packets in the binder in alphabetical order. We had to be careful to tape the tops of any packets that were open. This allowed us to really be able to see what we have. I think it will also come in handy at planting time.
The next item to order is seed potatoes. Last season they were so scarce that we actually were able to sell extras that we ordered to help offset our costs. Our potato crop was actually free last season. It is also time to order seed starting supplies. We order trays and small pots. These can be quite expensive if you don’t shop around for the best prices. We grow many extra tomato and pepper plants that we sell at our little farm stand which then pays for the seeds we plant in our garden. We are basically growing for free. So often when pursuing this lifestyle you realize it costs you more to grow your food than what you could buy it for. These little sales really helped to make our homestead more cost efficient. Agriculture on a small scale is very hard to make money at, so any time we can offset the costs, we do. We sell enough honey to make our honey free to us, so I suppose we are really working for our food. When it is time to start planting seeds you know that spring is just a few weeks away.
We really love time in our little Harbor Freight green house. We use a small space heater for warmth starting in late March. The warm air and light in the greenhouse can really pick you up as winter drags on. We have even shared an afternoon cup of coffee and good conversation in there from time to time long before the last frost!
To save money, we make our own seed starter mix from vermicullite and peat moss. We start seeds under a lamp in the basement near the wood stove and then move them to the greenhouse once they have a few leaves. Then before you know it we are planting cold weather crops like cabbage, kale, onions, spinach, and lettuce. Working the soil, even in cold weather, is good for our minds and body.
All of the seedlings in the greenhouse eventually make it into the ground
So as you can see once the planning begins in mid-January, the gardening season has begun. One step after another to your ultimate goal. Gardening season is like a snowball rolling down hill. Picking up momentum getting bigger and bigger all the way through harvest. So when the winter’s short days have you down, don’t despair. Start planning this year’s garden now and enjoy all the warm thoughts.