February 21, 2012

February Garden Projects

Winter made another brief appearance the other day, dipping our night time temperature down to 18° F. Mostly it's just been wet this year, with over 19 inches of rain since October. If that had been snow it would have been over 15 feet! However, we usually only get a couple of inches of snow each winter, rain being the norm. We've had no snow so far, but with February being so cold and dismal, we may get some yet.

Still, my winter garden is holding up admirably. I've regularly harvested turnips, radishes, lettuce, beets, kale, cabbage collards, an occasional sprinkling of broccoli, and mangels and collards for the goats. My garlic and multiplier onions are doing well, though the Egyptian Walkers appear to have gone dormant (do Egyptian Walking Onions go dormant in winter?) The parsnips and carrots are hanging in there, though since so few came up I haven't harvested them yet.

In spite of all the rain and mud, I've still been able to work on a couple of garden projects, more terrace borders for the beds, and mulch.

For the terraces, I'm using downed logs from our woods. These we have aplenty, and while they don't make neat, tidy, suburban looking beds, they do satisfy my frugal, make it do, waste-not-want-not sense of homesteading. The mulch is leaves, which also are abundant.

Terracing the garden, one bed at a time

As you can see I still have a ways to go. I would also love to get a thick layer of mulch on every bed before the winter weeds go to seed. The beds at the bottom of the garden actually need more than a terrace log, they need to be raised. Our first winter here we learned that this part of the garden floods if we have a deluge.

Because of the rain, the going is slow. Some days we have kitchen projects going on and I don't get outside at all. My outdoor time is divided too, with other things needing to be done. One thing I've come to appreciate about permanent beds, is that even though the ground isn't drying out, I can still walk in the garden without worrying about compacting the soil.

I have nothing planted yet, no early indoor starts. Things are so topsy-turvy with our kitchen remodel, that I figured I don't need anything else to try and keep up with. My seed orders have arrived however, and pretty soon I can plant peas! Come to think of it, I may try to get a few tomatoes planted indoors anyway. Surely I can find at least one window sill with some sun.


Anonymous said...

Love using the downed logs for your beds. Free, and eventually will break down, adding to your soil :)

Tami said...

Agree with the "wet" assesment, Leigh. This time last year we'd done our Spring cleanup, trimming and burn. This year? Too wet. Since we're weekend warriors around here it seems we've been getting blasted the past few weekends so nothing is getting done.

I was agressive with the leaves too and we've also been Craig List (ing) for straw. I more I learn the more I really want to go "lasagna" method as much as I can.

I got my onion sets in the other day. Hope to plant peas and onions this weekend or next, weather permiting.

Mama Pea said...

Gosh, advantages and disadvantages of all of us living in different parts of the country! One of the things I like about being where we are is that my "outside" chores are nearly non-existent in the winter. I get a break from having to divide my time between indoors and outdoors. 'Course, you've had lovely fresh garden greens all winter which we haven't seen since September! Through in remodeling and you must be going in three directions at once. Pace yourself. Wild, crazy summer is on its way!

Nina said...

My seed order has arrived, but I won't think about starting anything inside for another month or more! Outside, hardy seeds will have to wait longer than that because I don't have a hoop house or cold frame yet, for early protection. We can have frosts until late May here.

It's exciting to be thinking about planting though.

Oddly enough, we've had a wet winter, with not nearly as much snow as we normally get and gallons of unexpected winter rains. The upside of that is that my chooks are still free ranging and eating hardly any purchased feed this winter.

Beth of the Rocks said...

Hey I don't have any indoor starts yet either!! But then, I'm moving in May. There's never enough time in the day, is there?


Florida Farm Girl said...

Gracious, since October we were DOWN 10 inches in rainfall and were in desperate need of rain. This past week we did get 5 inches total, so that helps, but the whole area still needs lots more to help replenish the ground water.

I envy you your sunny garden space. We have lots of trees on our lot and very little open space for a garden or sunloving flowers.

Anonymous said...

Have not started my seeds inside yet, worry that old man winter is going to catch up with us here in the mid west. Love your downed logs idea, use what is available is always the best way to go in my humble opinion.

Renee Nefe said...

It looks like everything is going well! I love the look of your terraced garden in the first shot. :D Makes me want to go drag the 4x4s we have to where I want to move our garden.

Jody said...

Your weather sounds a lot like ours. Although no variety brassica could survive around here this year. We tried to overwinter kale and cabbage. They're pretty much dead now. We're dividing time between inside and outside too. Belle repainted our kitchen and we've been mulching our garden with composted horse manure. Today was the fifth truck load. I think we have 2 more to go, then we'll be finished. There seems to be a lot yet that needs to be done before spring arrives. Or has it?!

Leigh said...

Stephanie, I have something like 23 beds. I can't begin to imagine what it would cost if I had to buy everything!

Tami, craigslist is wonderful. I hear you about the lasagna method. Less work with same results! That's me. I need to get peas in the ground and my comfrey plants arrived the other day. Hopefully tomorrow?

Mama Pea, makes for interesting reading, doesn't it? I hear you about pacing ourselves. There is so much to do and only so much of me to go around!

Nina, seed orders in the mail are exciting! That's great news about your chickens. So much healthier to forage anyway. :)

Beth, oh my, moving trumps it all! Still, this is an important and exciting move for you. The beginning is just around the corner.

FFG, I'm so sorry to hear about your drought. We had a bad one right before we bought this place, so all the rain is welcome. Still, we have a summer dry spell every year. I am thankful to have such a nice open area for my garden. Nice sun and the hedge at the top protects it from cold winter winds.

Martha, winter can do unexpected things! I'm trying to be patient too. We've had snow as late as March.

Renee, thanks! Do you think you'll actually get your garden moved this year?

Jody, mine died last winter as well. Or should I say, died back. In the spring, they started growing again. I was surprised at that and wished I had covered them just to see what would have happened.

Ngo Family Farm said...

Your terracing looks beautiful! We learned last year that our garden and one of our fields is in a flood path, too. We had flooding for several days, and all my early seeds (and a fair amount of topsoil) got washed away! So, I'm aiming for at least a few raised beds this year :)

Clint Baker said...

Leigh, It looks like everything is coming along great with you! May God continue to bless you!


Kari said...

As usual, everything looks great around your place! We've had a very mild winter, maybe even too mild (predicted to have a high of almost 80 tomorrow), but I noticed that my Egyptian walking onions also went dormant this year. I don't remember if they've done that in the past or not, but I noticed that a few are starting to come back now, since we've had so many warm days this month.

Anonymous said...

I learned something new this week. I had no idea you could harvest anything in the winter (unless you lived in a milder climate). Wow! I would LOVE to grow carrots, but I'm afraid our rocky New England soil would not be favorable. As a relatively I have lots of research to do!

Jocelyn said...

I am a totally make-do, use what you have kind of girl, and I salute you! It's very satisfying, isn't it? Feels good in the soul, I always think.

I have a few things started already, onions and the like, but the major plantings aren't in yet-it's not time!

Leigh said...

Jaime, thanks! Yes, it's discouraging to have that happen. We've lost a lot down the hill too. I think permanent beds are a good solution.

Clint, thanks!

Kari, hasn't the weather been crazy? Thank you for mentioning about your Egyptian onions. This is my first year for them, so I haven't known what to expect.

Jocelyn, you're a kindred make-do spirit! I agree, it feels excellent

Tom Stewart said...

Its so wet out side that I can not get anything done. The garden still has weeds from last year that I need to get at!
Recently I won a Giveaway at "Common Sense Homesteading"! A seed Giveaway! I got 58 packs of vegetables and 12 packs of flowers!
Will not have to get many other seeds this year (or next?). Potato's
are one.
Read my last post, Another giveaway won?

Denise said...

My walking onions died back but then I didnt cover them this winter either. They are coming back loud and proud along with my garlic. Cant wait to start planting things outside again though I wish we didnt have weeds. Kinda takes some of the fun out of it..:)

Sherri B. said...

It is so nice that you are able to use that area and that you have the downed trees and leaves. It will be fun to see how it all looks when planted! - I still haven't ordered our seeds, I'd better get busy with that. xo

Jody said...

I'll have to cover them now and see what happens. Maybe I'll get something out of it after all.

Leigh said...

Tom, congratulations! I had to chuckle about your "last year's weeds." I still have some of those too. :)

Denise, thank you for that about the onions! I'm hopeful about mine too. And I agree that the weeds really make work out of gardening. :)

Sherri, it bothers Dan terribly to think that all those trees might just rot away. There's enough back there to build our barn, but how in the world could we ever get them all out of there! Some are huge.

Jody, it would be worth a try. Who knows? One of these years I'll manage a hoop house or row cover. Of course, our winters are borderline. Some year's they're mild, some they aren't.

Unknown said...

Have you heard of Hugelkultur before? I haven't tried it myself but it's apparently a really useful technique if you have the land and logs for it. Here's a link on how it works: HUGELKULTUR

Leigh said...

Tanya, yes I have! We used this in our front yard herb beds, but I have so many vegetable garden beds to do by myself, that I opted not to do all that digging and soil removal. :) Thanks for the link though.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

I love the terraced look with the logs, and it's great you are making good use of the downed trees. I was wondering why you give the collards to the animals and not also eat them yourself. Do you not like collards? We have collards in our winter garden and really enjoy them. I sometimes make them the southern way, but I also wilt them and put them in quiches and soups. Yummy!

Leigh said...

Candace, we like collards quite well, but we like the cabbage-collards and kale better. Since we have more than enough for when we want greens, I just never get to the collards for us. I cook the cabbage-collards the same way as collards. Yummy indeed!