February on the Homestead

Crocus are the first thing to bloom.
For a few days, it's spring. For another few, the weather is wintery. That's a typical spring for us, so I usually take my cues from the plants. In February, the crocus is blooming, the daffodils are budding, and the Lenten rose has begun to blossom, too. Time to get serious about the garden

Seed starting.
This month, I started my cool season seeds via the winter sowing method - over a month later than I typically do. I started Fizz kale, Wild Garden kale, Flash collards, Jericho lettuce, Outrageous lettuce, Danvers 126 Half Long carrots, Berligum carrots, Quick Start cabbage, Javelin parsnips, Red Head radishes, Tyee spinach, Early White Vienne kohlrabi, Catskills Brussels sprouts, and Thompson broccoli. After soaking the seeds overnight, I also started Alaska peas, Blue Podded peas, and Early Wonder beets.

Lenten rose.
This year, my seed starting containers are the plastic tubs the lettuce we've been buying this winter is sold in. They seem to be working perfectly, creating a nice little greenhouse for the seeds. I also have a few plastic muffin/cookie tubs from the store - and a supply of plastic milk jugs I can cut in half and duct tape back together for seed starting, if needed. Call me Scotch, but I just can't bear to buy expensive seed starting systems and containers when I can use items like these!

My 7 year old daughter really wanted to try her hand at her own garden this year and we agreed that it would be 100% her responsibility. "If you make mistakes, like over- or under-watering, they will be lessons," I told her, and she's taking this to heart - to the point of not even wanting me to explain the process.
Adding composted chicken manure and straw.
Because our garden space is really limited, I'll be giving her a large pot to grow in. She started her own seeds, alongside me: Berligum Carrots, Tom Thumb lettuce, and some California poppies.

I haven't had the nerve to ask the neighbors behind us - the ones with a tree greatly shading our garden - if they would consider cutting it down (since they never use their backyard), so I've decided to use what I've always considered our main veggie bed for things that don't mind a bit of shade - including spinach, peas, kale, and collards. But I felt I really needed to loosen up the soil, so I began double digging it.

The new planting area.
I began by digging up the first berm (raised bed without borders), setting the soil to one side as I worked. Then I sprinkled 6 month old chicken manure and straw into the bottom of the resulting ditch. Then I replaced the now-loosened soil, creating a berm again. I will do this for all the berms - but I'm also widening the berms - something I wanted to do right from the start of this garden.

Food Produced So Far This Year 
(without green houses, cold frames, or tunnels - and with 2 yr. old hens):

Eggs: 80

Collards 2 lbs.
Kale 2 lb.
Dandelion Greens 5 lb.
Sunchokes 40 lbs.

My 4 yr. old's "garden."

A couple of chickens taking a dust bath in wood ash from our stove.

1 comment

  1. We still have many inches of snow here! When spring finally does come, it will come in a hurry, but right now it feels so far away.