February. This is the beginning of the growing year. Then there will be two trays, then five, and eight…
Soon every windowsill be be filled, and the shelves will come out, until all the available glass real estate in the house is occupied by trays in early April.
I have calculated the current maximum seed tray load of the house is 14, unless I evict the aloes from the other picture window, and then I could bump it up again. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I need some limits.Outside, winter.
Got a serious frost last night, and a warning frost the night before. There was ice crusted on the water in the stock tank, and the sweet potato vines were finished off. The squashes themselves took damage, which is very disappointing.
Not the worst thing to have to can pumpkin, but I like to have squashes and pumpkins throughout the winter for the chickens. Bummer!
Also today; world climate strike. I hope the message is deafening, because the increased storms and fluctuating temperatures and melting ice caps haven’t been loud enough, apparently.
A lovely pile of a wide range of tomato varieties. I have late blight now in the greenhouse (what the? It’s not damp), so the harvest may turn out to be smaller this year than usual, but any reduction isn’t showing yet.
Three bread bowls of tomatoes today is the second haul harvested, and now the cauldrons boil and bubble.
The tomatoes are installed in the greenhouse (today), and now I have to scrupulously keep the chickens out (lest this happen again), let the guineas in at night but not so soon that there are marauding chickens still about, keep an eye on closed/open doors for air and heat circulation, and watch the forecast like a hawk for frost temperature dips. It’s a nervous time, while the tomatoes are still baby plants.
I swear planting is getting faster and more efficient every year though.
This is the transformational stage, between chicken winter habitat and summer food jungle:)
The sap is running! Last year we were largely robbed of the sugar season when winter ended a month early (just kidding! Catastrophic frost in June!).
I completely failed to get taps in the trees on time last year.
This year, the sugar season is right on time, precisely timing the sugar moon. I’ve got one tree tapped, the sap is flowing, and I’m even boiling it down!In the past I’ve tapped several trees and collected an awe-inspiring quantity of sap, and failed to boil any because in general I don’t even try to resist chugging it, cold, standing next to the tree (WOW!).
I made kombucha from it (wow), I boiled it to make tea, and soup, but not syrup.
Also I believed the horror stories of dripping walls and sauna reenactments from boiling sap indoors and vaporizing 39 out 40 parts water. Doing it anyways. I discovered something, maybe. I was in and out of the house today turning the stove on when I was in and off when I left (window open), and whenever I returned to the cooled pot, there was a remarkable drop in the high water mark. It seemed quite a bit was evaporating every time while it cooled, without the burner on. So perhaps that’s a tiny bit more efficient?
But this time, I have a modest amount collected, (still chugging it from the bucket but with a little restraint), and I’m hoping for a quarter cup of syrup :D. Maybe a half a cup:)
Reliable, pedestrian kale races out of the gate, germinating in three days and fully unfolding cotyledons in <24 hours (pictured at two days old).
More exciting is licorice:
Before too long every windowsill will be full of seedling flats, and I’ll be grumbling at how fast the tyrannical little shoots are pressuring me to pot them up.
I flaked all of February, the early planting, but I’m back on track now with my planting schedule (easier every year as most things are just a straight copy of last year’s schedule). This week, lettuce and ground cherries.
Planted the garlic today. On paper that’s half a month late, but by the weather, it’s just the right time. The beds covered with hay look exactly the same after planting as before. So many worms under the mulch!
I started some wheatgrass for the guineas. I couldn’t remember if wheatgrass required soil or not, and I’m still not sure, so I’ll start trying it soil free. I will also find out soon how many days it takes to become edible, and cycle trays through the windowsills. Now we can spend all winter with the windowsills filled with start trays too.
Tomorrow is scheduled to be yard day for the chickens, so that should be fun and exciting. I have to drape the greenhouse adjunct garden with bird net to thwart the sky predators and the guineas from escaping, and cut doors, and then they will have an outside yard they can come and go from. I expect enthusiasm.
I looked at the forecast and figured it was the last minute for getting the potatoes out of the ground. It wasn’t. They were plenty well tucked in and could have withstood much colder temps. But they’re out now.First I take the blanket off. Dig the potatoes…Oh look, I got a heart potato! That wasn’t staged. It really turned over the first forkful. I got two heart potatoes today. Somebody’s been here first. I don’t have anything against voles, particularly, but – that could change. It’s hard to tell how much of the potato volume is lost, but there’s evidence of a pretty epic vole party.…and put the blanket back on! Time for the garlic to in now.