January on the Homestead

Our main veggie garden in January.
We've had an unusually cold winter so far. Some snow, yes, but mostly just lots of heavy frosts. I can't say I've ever had to wait for the soil to thaw before I dug into it, but this year, I may need to.

As usual, I'm spending some of the winter months wishing I hadn't run out of energy in the early autumn. I had so many plans: Wipe out the terrible weeds in front of the house by laying cardboard over them; finally putting up some sort of cold frame so I can have more greens in the winter; foraging for some new wild foods. But none of it happened. Between birthday parties, the mad harvesting and canning rush, and the start of school, there just wasn't enough of me to go around. Maybe I'll get it done in 2013, if I plan my time, money, and energy better.

We've had enough clear weather, however, I've been able to clean up the garden beds a bit. Hubby chipped the Christmas tree, plus branches and so forth from our garden, to use as mulch this spring. The nasturtiums, which were riotous last year, climbing up the front of the house, finally died back due to our first (very late) hard frost. I was delighted to see, tucked snug and warm beneath them, were the wild onions I planted last year. If you've never tried them, do! They are the most delicious thing I've ever eaten from the onion family, and are fantastic on backyard-fresh eggs.

This is the best of my broccoli this year. Not very impressive, is it?
The passion vine, which had died back for a year or so, is now growing full force again. I cut it back and dried some of the vines for medicinal purposes, but as I think about all I want to plant in 2013, I think I'll have to cut it back more severely. 

Which brings me to January's great event: The arrival of my favorite seed catalog. I really want to focus more on growing foods that will sustain us through those weeks when the money runs out, but I also want a good mixture of food we love and either can't find locally or just doesn't taste nearly as good when it's from the store. Trouble is, our neighbor has a tree that's almost completely shading our largest vegetable bed. When you live on a relatively small suburban plot, as we do, this is a huge problem. It makes me dream - nearly every night - about living in the country with huge gardens.
We are harvesting some collards still.

I hope to work up the courage to knock on our neighbor's door and ask if they mind if we chop down their tree. They never use their yard, so they shouldn't care...right?

Whatever the case, I need to plant more in our front yard. But this is difficult because we've had food and plants stolen from the front in the past. It's an unhappy set of circumstances.

So instead, I try to focus on what's going well: The chickens, after moulting, are laying again - always a joyous occasion! I'm digging up fresh carrots, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes - which always feels like a luxury in the winter. And I've had a few bowlfuls of fresh collards and kale. And oh! There are dandelion greens - something I always crave at this time of year! God is good.
Our hens have been enjoying squash since fall.


  1. Our broccoli doesn't head like we expected, but it puts on enough little clusters we can enjoy two or three meals with each picking. This is our 2nd year and we're still learning how they grow. We have discovered they produce much better in raised beds and they are a vibrant green.
    Ah, country living...there's nothing sweeter. ;) Oh, by the way, I think we may experiment with a potato box this year. I'll let ya know how it goes!

  2. Loretta, I think I just didn't start the broccoli soon enough in the summer. I'm going to try planting it in early spring this year. We, too, are doing a potato box - I've read that the more the potatoes bump into wood (or the tough fabric of a grow box), the more they make new shoots. So we are going with wood, as opposed to wire. I may also use hay instead of soil.

  3. Loretta, just choose wisely. In re-reading some materials about growing potatoes in towers a key point to success seems to be variety. There are a lot of potato tower failures on the 'net, but as far as I can tell, they are using early potatoes...Instead, late season potatoes are recommended.

    1. Thanks for letting me know! ~Loretta

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.