Subsistence Farming in January

December 31, 2015 (5)

I always get the itch to start… right before my fingers get numb and painful.

January in Everett, Washington

There is something empowering about seed catalogs.  Summer hues, flowers, lush fruit, abundance. I feel like I can grow anything in January. Honestly it is still too cold and even though my favorite weather page is telling me that the days are getting longer, I’m not really feeling it. I still have the itch to get started.

Here’s what I do to scratch that itch.

Seed Inventory

January 2, 2016 (1)

Seeds stored in the crisper drawer. Some are eight years old and still come up strong.

Before I start to memorize those catalogs, I take an inventory of what I have.  I have a file on my computer called “Seed Inventory” and a drawer in my refrigerator full of seeds with just a few of Ray’s Mason Bees. I am LOUSY at organizing but I do enjoy sorting. Before I make a single seed order I’ll go through my list, comparing it to what I actually have.  If Ray were in charge of  seed storage they would be in some kind of order so that I wouldn’t have to go through EVERYTHING every couple of weeks in the early season when we start our garden. His efficiency doesn’t stop there. When we plant together he puts in more then twice as much as I do because I fuss over every rootlet and pause to figure out what bird is singing that song. I tend to sit back and mentally write my blog or take pictures. He gets the job done.

January 2, 2016 (3)

A pocket size (or at least fanny-pack size) notebook for two of my passions. Bible-Hebrew study and dreaming about the garden.

 Somewhere between seed inventory and the green house I also inventory the things I need to make soil blocks, the condition of my flats and 4-inch pots. I’m probably going to need more.

Winter Sowing (link to an essay on my early attempts at winter sowing from my original blog, Rainsong) While going through my seeds and supplies I’ll be looking for the things I always winter sow. Artichokes, parsleys, tricky herbs like chamomile and echinacea (Purple Cone Flower). This year I am going to add snap-dragons and pansies to the Winter Sown list.

Job 3 The Green House

March 7, 2015 (6) Greenhouse

This is close to how it should look in here.

What a mess! The walls get green (despite the name, it is the plants, not the house itself that should be green). It does not smell right. It has become a storage shed for everything I don’t want getting wet, for seeds that need to be threshed and a bunch of other junk that needs to be tossed or put in its place. The green house is the one place that I love to keep orderly.

Job 4 Late Winter Salad

March 21, 2015 1st day of Spring (1)

March 2015 (from a late January planting) Radishes made my grid. Scallions and spinach did well but the tender lettuces did not like the radiant heat during the day and the near freezing temps at night. Just a couple of slugs ate those stressed babies.

There is a small square box in the very back corner of my greenhouse. During the summer it will hold eggplants or peppers, maybe cucumbers, but early in the season, well before I should, I will plant hardy Asian greens and mustards, radishes and scallions…. just because I can. Most of them will go into bentos, sometimes a slug will have a feast before I remember to sprinkle Sluggo, but sometime in early March, there will be a salad, far better then anything Costco or Trader Joe’s can ever hope to sell to me, that I will love more then the birthday cake I’ll have.

Are you ready? Then get out and get dirty! Afterwards, make something with the leeks and celeriac still growing in your winter garden!

February 6 uprising 2014 (2)

Uprising Seeds from 2014, almost time for 2016

Shabbat Shalom! January 2, 2016: clear and cold. Pretty to look at, brutal to be in. Sunrise at 7:58 and 26 degrees F. I saw a (Ruby Crowned?) Kinglet flitting about in the one surviving artichoke plant. The temperature got all the way up to 38 degrees. Sunset at 4:27 for 8-hours and 25-minutes of cold daylight

Debs

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