This time of year during winter’s short, gray days, I dream of spring. And summer. Seed catalogs arrive daily to inspire. Like a kid in a candy store, I begin to circle my favorites. New plants, new flowers, new herbs. New ideas and new beginnings.
After going crazy with the sharpie, I do a quick inventory of seeds I already have. Some from last year that never got planted, and the seeds I save every year, from the plants I grow. Each year, this last category grows, which is great. Theoretically I should be buying fewer seeds… However, I seem to have a problem. Some women collect shoes, or handbags. I collect seeds. Can’t help it. It is always fun to try one or two new plants.
We love to eat sweet and hot peppers. And this Poblano chile is calling my name. He says, ” Chile rellenos for dinner this summer” and I say, “Si, como no!” Chilies, peppers, beans, and squash are great for seed saving on your own. Buy once, and you are set.
The garden is quiet now. The citrus trees and the savoy cabbage are the only producers right now. The frost sort of burned the blood oranges. I hope the fruit is still sweet. I plan to pick these, and the tangerines soon to make marmalade.
Oh, and our chickens! They are producers too. We have really depended on our chickens for fresh eggs this winter. Considering the short days, three out of five are laying eggs daily. Not too bad. Thanks girls!
We eat a frittata at least once a week. Last night I made one with sauteed bell peppers, potato, and feta cheese. Yum. You can eat this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
The chickens were also helping me today, in the garden. They were helping me to prepare the soil for an early spring garden.
Not only by their digging and helping to get the soil broken up after I did some digging. By using their composted chicken manure, the chickens are helping to replenish and restore the soil. If you don’t compost, you should. It is like gold for the soil. And by cultivating healthy soil, you can grow healthy plants. My husband built this compost bin a few years ago. It has three bins. We put leaves from the yard, vegetable scraps from the kitchen, and chicken poop in the bins. After a few months, it all breaks down. You have to turn it once or twice, to move things along. Well worth it if you have the space.
I plan to plant romanesco broccoli, napa cabbage, savoy cabbage, leeks, onions, and lettuce in our new hoop house. I have never used a hoop house to extend the harvest. My husband made it for me for Christmas.
It may be too early to attempt this, but I am dying to plant something today. Might start the seeds indoors, on a heat mat. It helps them to germinate. Set up in the laundry room, they get natural sun light in the morning as well. Hopefully, the plants can be transplanted outside under the hoop house once they are big enough. I have never started spring plants so early. We shall see how this works out. Hopefully we will get a jump on the growing season. I am excited to try lettuce too.
Goals for 2014
Like many people, the new year is a time to reflect on what is important, and what you hope to accomplish in the coming months. I have three goals, all related to this blog.
1. Grow more food– Not only do I hope to increase production in my garden this year, but I hope also to extend the harvest, and grow more throughout the year. This poster should say grow MORE food in your organic garden.
2. Make more things from scratch– There is a long list of things I want to learn to make from scratch. Not just learn, but become proficient at. Top on the list, cheese. And bread. And I want to learn to preserve more of the harvest, canning, freezing, and possible sun drying tomatoes and packing them in oil. Lost arts! A few generations ago, people knew this stuff. I want to educate myself and become more self sufficient in the process. And I was given a cheese kit for Christmas from my Uncle Dan. He must have read my mind. Goals for cheese making include ricotta, chevre, and feta.
3. Buy local produce and meat- Without a fresh supply of home-grown organic veggies this winter, we have relied heavily on our local farmer’s markets. I find myself really wanting to show off what Sonoma County has to offer. Olives are in season now, and there is stellar olive oil locally made. I bought a quarter pig last year from a local farm in Petaluma, Green Goose Farms. It was delicious! I can’t tell you how great it was. I hope to highlight some of the local farms on this blog this year. Our local farms have such a great variety of food. Can’t wait to share the bounty of my garden and Sonoma County with the blogging community!
Happy New Year!