We've had weather in the low & high 40's... who's complaining about that?!
So far, there are no complaints about our first winter at the new house. We've seen ice, maybe thrice, and no snow, yet! Yeah, it has rained a lot, but I enjoy listening to the sound of it on the roof while I work. Between weather events, we have been able to get the yard and garden more prepared for the coming seasons and have even spotted the Sun a few times! Yipee! On the 5th we received a load of free wood chips to use for the yard and another on the 21st. The yard is now set for mulch for the year. If anyone needs woodchips, bring a shovel, bucket, and a way to get it gone! There is never a dull moment around here.
Our January Garden Update
What we are doing and you might consider too:
Although now is not the time to focus so much on what is growing in the ground, January is the best time to get your plans pulled together for your Spring, Summer, and even Fall gardens. Here's what we are working through this month:
Create a seed wishlist and go through the backlog of all the seeds to test for viability. We are gathering information as to how much we will use and how much we want to freeze. The public library has many food preservation books that I have been reading through... To sustain one's family, you need so many bushels of food!
Plan crop rotations and succession plantings. Brett has created a detailed seed catalog that is used as a tool for planning successions and rotations. In some time maybe we will have our schedule fully automated and have simply a reminder of "hey, it's time to plant x today".
Pruning back dormant vines, fruit trees, and blueberry bushes. We placed new beds for our berries this year- now for the hard part- choosing a more permanent place to plant them then in a large portable pot.
Layering our dormant beds with compost and other soil amendments (did you see our tips about compost?). We are preparing our beds now to be productive growers in the early spring!
Fill mulched areas around the yard with another layer of mulch. Now is the time to get woodchips, especially in the PNW. We have had two loads of free chips dropped in the last 3 weeks. I want to simply sing the praises of getchipdrop.com and I am thankful for the free mulch, however, there is a slight issue with the contracted companies not following instructions on where to drop the chips in our yard- so simply beware of that.
There are plenty of other things you can do to prepare the garden at this time of year but nothing beats the time spent dreaming about what you will accomplish in the coming year. Let us know what you are adding to your garden to prepare for spring.
Try this to build your compost!
Is your compost lacking body and decomposition? Our was.
We learned about a rapid-fire composting technique that involves Wood pellets (animal bedding) and Alfalfa pellets (animal feed) found at your local feed store. Soak the pellets overnight in water and add it to your compost tumbler, or pile, or heap, or whatever. The wood pellets act as the brown (carbon) where the alfalfa pellets act as the green (nitrogen) in your compost. The more alfalfa you add the faster your pile will heat up, adjust your ratios of either type of pellets depending on your compost.
The benefit of adding alfalfa to your compost in addition to your grass clippings and even coffee grounds is that alfalfa is also a slow-release fertilizer.
What's growing in the garden?
You can find us currently harvesting small amounts of the following:
- Broccoli & its leaves- our bunny loves!
- Fava Beans
- HELLA garlic
- Cover crop
- Lettuce starts (inside the workshop)
Which brings us to...
It's time to plan all the plantings!
Suburban Succulents Happenings
The shop is improving! Each week we try to make an upgrade. Last week we changed out the lighting in our storage space. Now that we are more confident with what is required, we are planning to upgrade the lights throughout the entire shop. We still have to get that pesky door changed out... For those of you who have visited the shop, you know the door I am talking about that is just sitting and blocking the back exit, currently. I can't wait for the light that will come through that window!
We have finally been feeling the low 20s of winter and as a precaution, the greenhouse has been cleared of tender succulents. We are leaving a few select items in the greenhouse to see what happens mainly Haworthias, Gasterias, and some of our mother plants... we have lost a few soldiers so far, but slowly we are learning which plants can handle the outdoor greenhouse life in the PNW. It's madness and we love it- I often remind myself that "We grow through what we go through" and next year won't be this same way.
Butte moved into a shed to keep her dry... She's not necessarily happier there because she loved to dig in the dirt in the yard, however, she still gets to jump around the yard occasionally and she is staying a lot cleaner!
The Lil chicks are fully integrated with the other hens and are being weaned off their chick feed (we are really just trying to use through the bag that we last bought). It's a pain in the ass to corral them into their own fenced area to eat their food nowadays. Little fact: Chickens that are laying should not eat medicated chick food as it's not recommended to eat their eggs because of coccidiosis medication playing some part with the eggs... not medical advice, but we are working through it.
The other day we went to Orchard Feed to get chicken food and other composting pellets; we ended up ordering 7 chicks, four more than we intended to. We love our wide variety of chicken breeds. The unique egg colors & characteristics of each hen are absolutely fascinating! The pleasure that it brings me to watch them waddle around the yard- pure merriment!
Coming Spring 2021
We are excited about many Spring ventures----
- We look forward to offering plant starts, like tomatoes, peppers, & a variety of herbs come springtime! We are teaming with "As Thyme goes by" who we found by digging around Facebook to find out what happened to Thrifty Feed. As Thyme goes by has provided starts to the community for nearly 15 years. We look forward to being a place for fans to get their starts!
- Expect lots of spring bulb planters to be available in the coming weeks. We will also have lots of outdoor pots, some empty and others with flowers, to liven up your home!
- By June we should be able to offer cage-free, backyard-raised, well-loved chickens eggs! With our flock growing to nearly double the size in just a few weeks, our egg production should be locked into a steady number by May or June. Please let us know if you are interested in getting on our egg list!
- Do you want chickens but do not want the work of the chick/pullet phase? Let us know, I'm happy to raise chicks for you and your family.
- How about meat birds? If you want fresh chicken, let us know and we will chat about our meat bird plan.