Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Gardening Bug Is Nibbling

After not even wanting to think about gardening for the past how many months, I now find myself getting eager for the coming growing season.  
 
It's not that I'm tired of winter time (longer nights for relaxing, snowshoe hikes without worrying about ticks, shoveling tons of snow for great exercise out in the pristine fresh air [well, maybe that not so much], etc.) but as the sun climbs higher in the sky and the warmth feels so good on any exposed skin, I can't help but think about digging in the dirt and harvesting crisp, fresh vegetables that will taste so much better than anything I can purchase from the store.
 
Papa Pea recently noticed one last head of cabbage from last year in a corner of the feed room.  It had been designated for the poultry and it was frozen solid.  He tossed it into the chicken's solarium (they've been so happy there in the sunshine's warmth this winter) and they ate the whole thing.  No butter, salt or pepper required.
 
That made me make some notes in my garden book about planting more veggies expressly for the birds.  During the spring, summer and fall when they can be out on pasture eating all the greens, bugs and wiggly worms their stomachs will hold, they are hardly interested in what we provide as feed.  But during the winter, they really appreciate mangels, squash, beets, carrots, most any root crop I chunk up, put in a pan with a bit of water and set on the garage wood stove overnight to soften up a bit.  Even potatoes, which are said to not be the best for poultry in a raw state can be fed if cooked.  Over winter, we strive to keep not more than a dozen laying hens (and a couple of roosters as boyfriends) so planting extra for the birds is no chore.
 
I have a good supply of all the garden seeds I need, but still have to order some potatoes to plant this year.  I didn't plant any last year and have been buying them at our organic grocery co-op this winter, but we've missed having our own stash here at home.  I always plant a red and a white variety.  The reds give us a greater yield, but the whites give us larger potatoes, just not as many.  Almost all root crops grow well up here in our location with little problem.  A few years ago I had wire worms (eeuuuw) in our potatoes, but other than that I've not ever had potato beetles, blight or other difficulties growing them. 
 
And then there are the garden flowers.  Gotta have flowers which add so much color to the garden and inside, also, as cut flowers.  I once took a bouquet of flowers I grew to a relative.  She told me she preferred to enjoy flowers outside in their natural habitat rather than cutting them.  Each to their own, but I feel one of the joys of growing flowers is enjoying them inside.
 
Yep, although it's still too early for me to even start any seeds inside, I'm finding myself frequently thinking of this year's garden.  And the way time continues to fly by, it'll be here before I know it.
 

Looking at pictures of past gardens definitely serves to get me revved up for what's possible again this year.
 
Do you have plans for your garden all in place?  Growing anything new this year?  What's the size of your growing area?  Raised beds or the more traditional flat plot of ground?  Do you do container gardening?  Have you had any trouble finding the seeds you want?  All thought about gardening are always interesting to me. 

17 comments:

Rosalea said...

Oh my! What a beautiful, inspiring picture! I was walking along today, thinking of some seeds I could start early...but...it is only February still. Too early yet. A friend has given me some okra seeds of a variety for our short seasons, so that will be new this year. Basic plans are all sketched out, but there are always some changes as I start transferring the plans on paper to seeds in the ground. Most of my seed order has arrived and is waiting in my seed jar in the cool dark closet, and yes, everything I wanted is available.

Mama Pea said...

Rosalea - What you say about making some changes to your garden plan when it comes right down to the planting and/or transplanting is so true. I don't think I've ever planted a garden in the past 50-some years when I haven't done that! I guess it's another case of what looks so good on paper, doesn't always "float my boat" in reality. ;o)

betty said...

Beautiful garden from your past! I like that you are considering what to grow for the birds for next year! That is sweet of you! No plans for a garden here but we live in Phoenix where it is soooo hot in the summer. We have wondered where to put in a small garden in our small backyard but haven't come up with any plans. Before long, I'm sure you'll be a-planting!

betty

Katie C. said...

We ordered our seeds this week. I am sooo over winter. Sigh. For something new, we are going to try tomatillos. I like the green enchilada sauce so I hope to can some. Last year we tried sugar snap peas that were terrific. They are going in again. I’m going to try concentrating on drying and freezing more herbs this summer. The grocery selection was terrible this year. Then we have the usual tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, squash, etc.

We have limited space at the house due to lack of sun so we have a community garden plot too. We are planning to add a bunch of purchased composted dirt to our plot to rev things up.

One thing I still need to deal with is a bunch of frozen tomatoes from the end of the year. Not sure what I want to turn them into. Any suggestions?

Mama Pea said...

betty - I wonder if container gardening would work for you? Easier to keep growing things watered in containers perhaps. Many of the seed companies now offer varieties that specifically grow well in containers. It might be a bit of a daily chore but you could even move the pots/containers to a shady spot for the hottest part of the day. Maybe try just one or two containers this first year to see how it goes.

Katie C. - Doing more drying/freezing of herbs this year is on my list, too! Lucky you to have had enough tomatoes last season to put some in the freezer. They can be used to make soups and stews or stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce. Yum, a big batch of spaghetti sauce to be frozen or canned would be great, too. The skins of your frozen tomatoes should slip right off if you run them under cool water to do so. Go for it!

Anonymous said...

Mama Pea, your gardens are ALWAYS an inspiration for me!! I wanna be you when I grow up! I am so looking forward to the garden season especially now that I have the time (luxury!) to fully dedicate myself to it and without any long term travel responsibilities. Food gardening is more important than ever, IMHO, because of the recently developed food supply chain issues. And flowers are so valued in the garden too. They're good for the spirit as well as for our needed pollinators. Like you, I pick my flowers for the vase; a properly cut/pruned flower stimulates the plant to produce more blossoms--that's a win-win for me and for the plant! Question for you: Do you save seed, and if so, which kind? My success with seed saving has been hit or miss due to short seasons and type of seed. Yep, there is always something for me to learn about gardening! Argh!--M

Mama Pea said...

Anonymous M - Thank you! You must be energized and excited beyond belief to have the "luxury" of time ahead of you. Every time I shop this winter I think, "I could be harvesting that out of my garden if it wasn't winter time." Food from the garden tastes SO much better than anything purchased and, as you say, with the food supply chain becoming weaker and weaker, all we can grow right in our backyard is worth it's weight in gold. Plus, if you figure in the rising costs of food, any labor I personally put into my gardening is well worth it. Savings seeds . . . I have the same problem as you with such a short growing season. Just not enough time for (most) seeds to adequately mature and dry before rain and cold weather hits. There is probably more I could do toward that end but it's frustrating. I use a lot of dill weed (and some seed) so last year I was bound and determined that I would at least harvest the weed and dry large amounts. Dang and blast, my dill plants were just about a total bust. Just gotta keep trying, I guess. :o)

Retired Knitter said...

Not being a gardener, I had to Google Wire Worms. Never heard that term before. I can see why you wouldn’t want them.

Mama Pea said...

Retired Knitter - Yep, and with my aversion (to put it mildly) to worms and snakes, that just about did me in! Fortunately, by making sure I didn't plant my taters in the same spot for three years, I got rid of them. Phew!

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Great photo! We're going to be changing our backyard bit to add more intensive growing by changing our Chicken Run. New blog post coming soon on my blog! I have some seeds I think mostly you what we already need and we'll be starting some seeds and are grow light rack soon

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - I have to so admire you and your hubby for your willingness to continually change your little homesteady area to gain maximum use of it. As you already know, you can grow a lot of food in a small area by doing it wisely and intensively. Looking forward to what you do!

JustGail said...

The only place my garden plans are is in my head, I should check the seed box and get what I need before pickings are sparse. I have 8 3'x5' beds, raked into hills. Plus a 3-4'x32' bed with asparagus, 1 lonely rhubarb, and a small section of walking onions that need reworked. I'd love those 8 beds relocated closer to the house (for water and electric) and raised up taller.

Your gardens are pretty. Trellises, raised beds, mulched, and weeded...

Kev Alviti said...

I've been mad on the plans this year and I've ordered new fencing and wood to build an arch. I've stripped out every bed and lifted every path to have a really good go at it all this year, I felt it got quickly on top of me last year!

Goatldi said...

Yes i am. Huh? Change of many sorts going on here. I just picked up half a hog that is comprised of three different heritage breeds and is now nestled in my freezer next to my pasture poultry I raised last fall.

Getting ready to harvest my experimental planting of spuds planted in November. Of course I picked the year that we had two major storms in December back to back giving us 100% of our snowfall and a lot of rain we what could possibly go wrong? We’ll find out next week when I harvest I think we’re doing OK though.

Still have lots of work going to get the summer garden on its feet going ,to start seeds in another couple of weeks I have to build some more raised beds and yada yada yada.

Big excitement is brewing and I will do a blog installment within the next few weeks.

Very excited about trying new varieties and a whole different game plan to this garden looking forward to all of the opps and the at it girls that it brings.

I do so know what you mean I’m itching to get going full speed ahead even an hour more moderate climate at the knees mountains in central California I am just itching to get into the dirt and dig!

Mama Pea said...

JustGail - I think one of the things that keeps gardening interesting is that as we go along we always find ways to improve whether it be higher raised beds, a better location, additions to the soil, trying new crops, etc., etc. Love how many raised beds you have to work with.

Kev - As I said to Gail above, there are always ways to improve our gardens. I wish I had your talent for building as I have 2-3 trellises/archways that are truly on their last legs and need new ones built. I think having metal ones would be nice in that they should last much longer, but the ones I've found are very pricey! I know you've worked really hard making changes in your whole garden area and you'll be reaping the fruits (okay, vegetables) of your labor, for sure!

Goatldi - Lots of thought, plans, and labor have been going into making your "new" homestead just the way you'll want it, right? Can't wait to hear of all that's been going on!

Tim B. Inman said...

I just brought in a bucket of my own farm-raised spuds last night. They are still so good! For another reason, I had recently purchased a bag of store taters. They are nothing in comparison! I love the whole circle of growing and using my own stuff. I think it keeps us healthy in more ways than the belly. Cheers!

Granny Sue said...

That garden picture is just beautiful. Ours is never so tidy, but it does produce a ton of veggies. Yours shows some real love and dedication.