Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snow on the Ground and Spring in the Heart

It's a new year, so time for a bunch of goals, right? Trouble is that we might have given up on those goals long before the warm months hit. So, why not set some manageable goals that you'll remember every time you walk into your pantry or storage room -- goals that will benefit your family long-term? Tracie M. pointed out today that food prices have gone down. We all are smart enough to know the price of gas will go back up and that the food prices will rise again, too. So, now is the time to both plan and prepare. How can you prepare? Let's talk about one step you can take right now.

Seed catalogues come out soon, so now is the time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. Order and buy your seeds in February and start some of them (i.e. tomatoes, lettuce, and broccoli) by March.

Why start your own seeds? You can grow tasty varieties not available locally. I've been growing Brandywine tomatoes (an Amish heirloom variety) and Cherokee Purple tomatoes (an American Indian heirloom variety) for years, from seeds I purchased at Johnny's Seeds, a Maine company. Only recently have those plants become available locally. Expand your horizons and pour over the seed catalogues, both paper and online, and you'll find a whole new world of gardening.

Aren't you jazzed to get a bit of green going with all this snow?Remember that broccoli and lettuce can be set out very early. My lettuce plants from seed survived 6" of snow last spring and were beautiful. Truly, there is nothing like a home-grown vegetable for taste and flavor, and you'll feel even better knowing you were able to begin this process right in your own home with your little green thumb. Involve your children in the planning now, as well as the planting and all the rest.

Sometimes, we begin something because we know we should do it, and because we've been counseled to do it. Most of the time.... yes, most of the time, we end up wishing we'd begun earlier. The blessings pour over us. After all, who was it in the old Primary song who told us to "plant a garden", after all? With every commandment comes a blessing attached.


Melonie said...

It's so easy to get excited about a garden in the winter when those beautiful seed catalogs arrive from the nursery. I know I can view the same thing on most companies' websites but it isn't that same delicious feeling as perusing the real catalogs. :-)

R Max said...

I've been growing lettuce all through winter and its thriving. We had 28 degree temps the other night and they didn't even flinch. How much cold can they handle?

R.L. said...

Melonie, I also prefer the actual magazines. I love to mark up the magazine and have sticky notes everywhere. That's part of the planning, isn't it? :)

How much cold can lettuce handle? I'm not sure. I do know that the snow covered my lettuce seedlings for several days and they were healthy when the snow melted. Actually, snow is an insulator. So, my guess is that if it is cold without the snow, the lettuce would be more vulnerable. I want to build a cold frame one of these years....

For warm weather garden plants, the worst time after a frosty night is the dawn, as it gets colder. Old and wise gardeners say to spray your plants with water before the sun comes out to melt the frost off -- you can often save your plants that way. By the way, other cold season plants like snow peas and broccoli do well in cold weather, too. The challenge is in getting the seeds to germinate and not rot in wet soil. So, many people start cold weather seedlings inside where they can control the moisture on the seeds. That said, you do have to get the seedlings planted when they're a reasonable size. So,it's a really good idea to prepare a few beds in the fall for the spring veggies. You can't do a lot more than open a hole and plug in the seedling when the soil is super-saturated with water. Spring gardening often equals mud all over you. :)