MONTHLY BLOG POST: JANUARY
January and February are always hard months for me. It’s dark, It’s hard to get out for walks some days. The animals water is always freezing and needing refills. This year I had one of our hens die and we have only one left. I will be looking for some new girls for the spring but Lilly (our hen) was one of our favorite girls. She was so friendly, loved to be held and loved telling you stories bout all the bugs she had seen and ate. Whenever she saw me with a garden shovel she would come running, she knew there would be some grubs waiting for her. So we now sadly have a lone hen without a friend. On top of that, for some reason we had pipes freezing that haven’t froze before. WE also had vehicle problems and things were feeling like they were falling apart…EVERYWHERE!
(Quick notes about my garden journal; you can obviously see that my garden journal is a mess. It really isn't super organized and has no real plan to it. Some people have these really beautiful well organized books. I just take notes as I go. So I can look back the next year. and see when I started what, and adjust where I need to. )
But as I am writing this I am just at the end of January. 1 week to go. I am seeing the noticeable change of the days growing longer which is such a plus to get out walking earlier in the morning. I was able to place a large order of seeds which I am waiting to come in the mail this week. Waiting for the seeds seems to give me something to look forward to. Because of this I have pulled out my giant garden design because I’m a little extra, sometimes. I used grid paper and taped about 6 sheets together to have my garden plot set up the each square equals 1/2 foot in size. I have a huge amount of herb seeds coming in and can’t wait to get growing, drying and hopefully selling some dried herbs. I don’t know if I’m just crazy, or if this happens to anyone else, but I kept having this quiet voice (my own voice) in my head saying: “You started peppers in January last year, they worked out better then previous years. Start your peppers”. Of course I was feeling down about the pipes and the chicken and the cold darkness and ignored this. While browsing Youtube to waste more of January. I stumbled upon a cottage garden tour. So naturally I clicked on it. This led me down a very short rabbit whole to another video of a lady being interview about why she loves to grow her own produce. It was mentioned that she had her own channel…So I headed on over to that channel where last week she posted a video about starting her peppers and eggplant in JANUARY!!! That’s when my voice in my head said “told yah so, go look in your garden journal.” YES, it was there in my garden journal saying I did in fact start my seeds in January. So what did I do, pulled out the seeds that I do have and since I save my seeds when I can, I had all my pepper seeds. I trudged to the greenhouse, brought in the last of my potting soil and did 4 trays of peppers. Each tray has 72 squares, I call them “pods” but anyway, that’s a total of 288 potential pepper plants. If they all grow and I have more than I need, keep your eyes open for some yellow Peru chili peppers, cherry bomb hot peppers, sweet bell peppers and miniature chocolate bell peppers for sale later this spring! I won’t be starting anything else until March. But because of our short seasons and last years success, I am starting my peppers inside, in our windows now! So don’t be afraid to start yours… If you have room.
Other than just growing things, we have been doing great with our home school. We Home schooled last year as well. It isn’t all rainbows and sunshine though. It is quite a challenge some days. There are definitely pros and cons. The pros are she can go at her own pace more. We can spend more time on certain subjects she is having a hard time with, and can move through the stuff she masters much quicker. I’ve also noticed sometimes she needs things explained using different words or in a different way. This is something I never received in public school. We also get to focus on things that she enjoys a lot more. She has told me she wants to be either a farmer or a paleontologist. She has been obsessed with dinosaurs since as long as I can remember. But she has a natural knack for growing plants. Last year she wanted her own garden, which she had. It grew very well. She had a few tomato plants, carrots, green onions, radish, lettuce and spinach, peas and beans. She decided she wanted to save the bean seeds to have more this year, which she did. She was given the seeds from our friend at Ferme Resevoir and had 3 tiger eye beans and 2 calypso. She has many more now. She will have an even bigger garden in the front this year and plans on having a small stand to sell the vegetables she grows! I can’t wait to see her selling her vegetables and learning about the whole process.
On top of that, I was able to re-assess my cook book I started a few years ago. I had huge plans for it but before I realized what was happening it wasn’t going in the direction I was hoping. I felt discouraged and quit. I’m good at that quitting things. Lol. But Suddenly in December while creating recipes for Christmas and finding new ways to use the vegetables in our winter CSA basket, I got in the habit of writing down my creations. Not in the intent of a cook book but because I would make something only to have my family go: “omg that was good, can we have it again!” with me responding: “uhm maybe something close to it.” (eye roll here.). So I took my little note book and added the ingredients and steps, as I went, as I added things and as I did it. My page would be like: "1 Tbsp. Oil, onions, sauté, add chopped carrots, 1 cup, Next add this and this and this. These amounts. For this long, etc.”. It would look like a mess, but I knew what I was writing and what I did. As I started doing this I started thinking, “wouldn’t it be great having a cook book going by season”. Oh yah I was going to do that. Welcome to my brain processing. This led me to starting to add some of the recipes to a book template using book write. And if anyone knows of a cheaper printing company. Please leave it in the comments bellow. I love the way book write is set up and how easy it is to create, creative books but it is based in the U.S. and can be a bit expensive to ship. So please hit me up and if you’d like a cook book when I’m finished let me know! Probably next year. Why next year? I am adding recipes as food comes in season and as I grow and browse our local farmers markets. I feel this will give me the most accuracy when cooking seasonally. I realized that even though there are four beautiful seasons, sometimes the food grows in more of something like 6 season intervals. Does that make sense? I can explain more if you’d like. I realized that a lot of recipes in December also work really well in January. But February and March might be a little different. Fiddle heads, asparagus and garlic scapes are only in season for a month or 2 at best, not a full season. So the book is organized December/January, February/March, April/May, and so on. I really look forward to continue creating new recipes as the months and year goes by, I really look forward to helping others find healthy meat free recipes they can create using seasonal, locally grown produce.
(Just dreaming of summer gardens. Front garden full of herbs and flowers.)
Some other positives are my Orchids blooming! The first year Shawn bought them for me they only had 2 flowers on them. Now they are so much fuller and vibrant. My sweet orange tree also got a big burst in growth this winter. It may have been the few weeks of little light it was given. I was experimenting with placing it in our living room. It seemed to grow more shoots but of a paler green. I eventually decided to bring it back into the kitchen and it is so full and so much bigger. This may be a thing you guys. I was excited to get my pepper seeds planted (as mentioned before, keep a look out for those to be on sale!) and realized that I NEED TO START MY LAVENDER!!! Do you know what else I also realized? I really don’t know much about how Lavender grows! So until my seeds get here I am going to research lavender growing, and take notes. I love taking notes, and making lists. I make a lot of lists. I feel as though I am just starting to rant now and will be ending this months blog on a happy note.
(I received a large gift card for seed savers exchange! thank you Aunt Kathy. So naturally I invested in more seeds half of them are perennial herbs as well as seeds saved the pervious year.)Another amazing and local seed supplier is Catherine at NorthernSeeds.ca She is an amazing grower and has an incredible supply. I typically try getting most of my seeds from her, but because of my gift card and other factors this year. my seeds came from one place. I do however highly suggest her and check out her website for an incredible seed supply and to help support our local growers.)
What have you been up to this month? What are your goals for the year? Are you growing a garden, are you thinking about growing one but don’t know where to start. Check out some of my other blogs for inspiration. Check out NorthernSeeds.ca for a great local seeds resource, and your local farmers market for seedlings. Lets do our part and grow some of our own food like our ancestors did in the 1940’s. It will help the environment, it will be healthier for you and it will help the strain on our shops and food supplies during the chaos of 2022.
R.I.P. Lilly-bear. We miss you and no new hen will ever take your place <3
Have a great 2022, stay safe, stay healthy and Happy homesteading,