Tag Archives: Winter-Sown

Scratch the Gardening Itch; January

The Maritime Garden in January…

You cannot just look at all the seed catalogs showing up at the house and not want to start SOMETHING. The sun always comes out between “systems” to call us out to the garden. It is really too cold to do much but here is what we can do in January (Everett, Washington)

  1. Start onions, shallots and leeks from seed. If you have seed, 4-inch plastic pots, potting soil (I use what I find in last years flower pots) and a heat mat for seeds, then you can grow any kind of onion you want. At The Toy Box  we usually grow New York Early for winter storage and the pretty red Italian Tropea for a summer onion. I usually try something new every year.
  2. Winter Sow herbs, artichokes and any “difficult to grow from seed” plants. The only difficult thing about winter sowing is patience.
  3. Grow a pot or three of micro greens. 
  4. Scallions, radishes, and Asian greens will be slow but they will grow in a pot or box in the green house. I love picking something bright and fresh for my bentos and winter dishes. We have also grown lettuces but tender lettuce suffers from extreme cold and radiant heat of an unheated green house. The slugs come to clean them up, which always makes me madder then a hatter. I start spinach in the same box but it is hit or miss because of how hot it can get in a small green house. Give them a try if you have the space, by March you will be happy that you did.
  5. Keep harvesting winter vegetables from the garden. We have leeks, beets, herbs, kale and some broccoli that is hanging on. We also have turnips, and various greens. Neither my  celeriac or carrots survived past August because of the heat and drought of summer 2015
  6. ….what’s that you say? You do not have any winter veggies in your garden? Now is the time to start planning your 2016 garden, make room for them.

Debs…. who really wants to apologize for the quality of this first video in over two years. But I am laughing too hard. We will get better!

January 9, 2015 (1)

The Garden Journal

January 16, 2016 and I am glad we got out while it was pretty out to make the video last weekend. Today it is raining…. cold, bone chilling rain. After all, it is January.  50/44 F but it is so damp it feels much colder. Sunrise at 7:53; sunset at 4:44 giving us 8 hours and 9 minutes of day light. It looks like it will be cold and wet for the rest of the week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Back to Eden Garden, Urban Farm, Video

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Everyday Adventure, Urban Farm

Purple Artichoke

Winter sown Purple Artichoke

Surprise! I really was not expecting anything but dirt from this container. I am not even sure what motivated me to put seeds into this container. It really was an afterthought.

Artichoke seed is considered viable only for the first year when the seed is fresh. This seed was from 2011. I did store it in the fridge but still did not expect much from it when I set it into the cold frame last December. What a nice surprise! So far it looks like three sprouts. They get another week to ten days in the winter box before carefully up-potting to gallon size pots. I have no idea where they will live but I will find a place for them.

March 31, 2011 after the storm. Those were seedlings, including the Purple Artichokes.

I did this last year but one of these March storms blew in and knocked down the green closet they were in. Since then we have used bungee cord to keep the green closet up-right and in place.

Sitting in my garage, waiting for a place in the toy box.

The hope is that this greenhouse will be much sturdier than the closet. We are excited to start aquaponics and extend our garden a bit earlier and later in the year. We don’t think it will go up until the fava beans and shallots are harvested this summer (they have been growing in the spot we want the greenhouse since November).

The day after Tomato Tuesday, the soil blocks started popping. Yea!

Burrr! It could be La Nina, it could be extra-low barometric pressure, it could just be that it is March. Whatever it is, it has been cold and really wet. We had a spot of sun yesterday but it doesn’t look like we will see more today. 48-50/ 39 (that’s cold even for March) with an 80% chance of rain. We may be safe from wind today. Sunrise, 7:18 to sunset at 7:16 for a total of 11 hours and 58 minutes of daylight.

Leave a comment

Filed under Urban Farm