A journal of our day to day; homesteading and homeschooling in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I'm finally getting serious about garden planning, now that seed starting is just weeks away. Over the last few years I've gotten better at starting most seeds about the right time, not so early that they grow too leggy or root bound and not so late that they never amount to much. I set up a tall metal rack with five shelves, two sets of four foot long flourescents hanging above each level. I can fit four trays on each level. By the end of spring, some plants have moved outside to harden off in the greenhouse and there is room for a few more trays. Fortunately my husband sees seeds as food security. Therefor I am encouraged to invest in seeds. The last couple years I could have gotten away without ordering seeds as we have such a stock pile - but where is the fun in that?
Each year I greet the seed catalogs with much anticipation. Barbara Kingsolver writes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, (and I paraphrase from memory); "that she gazes at seed catalogs with the same misty eyed adoration as some women shop for diamonds." I looked for my copy so I could find the quote, as I do not do it justice. I remember reading that and thinking, she and I were kindred spirits as her words sum up my seed catalog fetish pefectly. I usually wait for a dull January afternoon before beginning to work my way through them, carefully taking notes. Over the course of a couple weeks I narrow my orders down to two or three catalogs.
This year I've deviated from my norm. I flipped through a couple catalogs and didn't see too much new. So I closely examined the Fedco catalog and have my order ready to place - today hopefully. I'm planning on ordering just from Fedco, so I haven't let myself even open up Territorial or Pine Tree. The greatest temptations will be when Seeds Of Change and Seed Savers come in the mail. They always have great pictures of something unique like hardy quinuoa or some beautiful South American root vegetable I've never heard of.
Some of the vegetable and flower seeds I've been tempted to try for the first time are Fava Beans, Scarlet Runner Beans, Celeriac, Arnica and Lemongrass. Some varieties I'm trying for the first time are Root Grex Beet, Honey Drop cherry tomato, Melissa Savoy cabbage, Charming Snow Cauliflower, and some different colors of Statice, Strawflowers, and lots of sweet peas, always. I've ordered Scarlett Keeper carrot for the first time in addition to Yellowstone, Atomic Red, Purple Haze and White Satin, all carrots I've grown that I was low on.
I did not allow myself to order any more radishes, turnips, green beans, peas, greens or broccoli - as I have enough seed for the next several years. Nor did I order any cover crops as I've done the last couple years. I'm going to see what comes back and just observe this year.
I am growing twice as many beets, carrots and shelling peas this year.The same amount of broccoli and green beans. More cauliflower, cabbage and squash. Less turnips, radishes and rutabagas. No corn! Less bitter greens and chard, more tender mild head and cutting lettuce. Less full sized tomatoes, and more snacking cherry tomatoes. No leeks or shallots and less onions. Last year I planted over six hundred onion sets. We will be cooking with out own onions through March. As much as I enjoy this, the onions just took up too much garden space - and onions aren't expensive nor are my homegrown onions remarkable in their superior quality, so... I'm ordering two hundred Stuttgarter onion sets. I know it won't be enough to get us to this time of year but there will be more room for other crops. Like, I want a large lusty squash bed. I need to focus on starting medicinal herbs and making sure I plant them in prime locations. I have a habit of forgetting what medicinal herbs I've planted and what it was I was going to do with them. I never got around to harvesting Comfrey, Spilanthes or the Elecampane I grew last summer.
I'll be starting some herbs in the next week or so, followed by tomatoes, then peppers, eggplant and slow growing flowers. Time to set up that rack. What are you most looking forward to growing this year? What can't you live without? What is new?
We are a family of four (with one more on the way), living in the Arctic Boreal Forest above Fairbanks, in the Interior of Alaska. I write about our simple life and trying to keep our life simple in a day when the typical American life is anything but. When I first started writing this blog I had a toddler and a baby and we were a growing homestead. I wanted to share our day to day and all the lessons we learned along the way, from mixing our own chicken feed to goat kidding season and cheese making. As our children have grown, home schooling has really taken over and I have had to examine every aspect of our lives to keep our days simple yet fruitful. These days you will still find me posting and sharing pictures of our chickens and garden, berry picking and salmon processing. I also hope to be writing about home schooling decisions and lessons as well as other interests and hobbies the kids and I explore. Reader interest and feedback is what keeps me writing, so please leave lots of comments!
The here and now of our homestead is what I'm writing about. Compelled by a sense that we are participating in something significant, heading back to our roots... this is my attempt to share what we are learning along our journey. For those of you on similar paths, whether you are raising kids, a flock of chickens, a couple goats or run a farm, well I'm hoping to learn from you as well, so feel free to put in your two cents!