O, February! I've been waiting for you! You bring hope to this gardener's soul—longer days, the promise of spring . . .
I had sort of anticipated a harsh winter, since summer 2021 had produced record-breaking highs and, typically, extreme follows extreme. I think most of the country experienced the same, to varying degrees. Still, spending the Christmas holiday confined indoors was a bit disappointing.
I snapped these pics after the first dump, but by mid January there was a full two feet of snow on our deck, give or take what the north wind had swept around. Indeed, it proved too much for Ol’ Relic (as we affectionately refer to our tired 1978 Polaris snowmobile), which has been, for most of the winter, stuck fast on our backyard trail, waiting for a good thaw.
Today's high temp in my backyard is a balmy +10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit, for my American friends).
Not bad, for early February in Canada.
I smell spring in the air :)
And, as every gardener nose—pardon the pun—the smell of spring is synonymous with garden seeds. We finally, if still a bit reluctantly, pack away the Christmas decorations, pull out ALL the seed catalogues, place a generous order from each, and engage in a little spring house-cleaning while awaiting the right time for poking tomato seeds into dirt.
Another thing that every gardener knows is that the garden, like the science, is never really settled. We experiment, we learn, we grow. And we make changes.
I've learned a lot about extending the growing season and protecting plants so that I can successfully harvest onions, carrots, and brassicas without the use of pesticides. My ultimate goal is to eventually be able to grow enough vegetables for a year. And, to that end, I've got a few plans in the works for 2022:
#1. The past couple years, I've been exploring the concept of a no-dig garden —and it's looking like this will be the year to see that happen, if only in a small way, for now. The idea of not disturbing my garden's ecosystem with tillage is appealing, as is the practice of keeping my precious compost in the top eight inches and the less-appreciated clay as deep as possible. Less weeding ranks pretty high, too.
#2. My composting method is set for an astronomical upgrade this year, 'cause I'll need more of it and more quickly if I'm going to grow a year's worth of veggies. Everything I need to know about the process, I'm learning from Josh at Homesteading Family. Both my new compost thermometer and my resolve are good to go!
#3. A pretty major garden expansion is in the works. Major, at least, when we're talking about two old-ish people adding an extra row or two and maybe three planting boxes. We prefer planting in the ground—which is certainly the better method for root vegetables. However, using boxes means that we can simply 'build' on the existing lawn space instead of tilling the sod and amending the entire area. Indeed, the most difficult part of the whole scheme will be moving the grandkids' swings and sandbox across the yard, since they now sit exactly where we plan to put the new beds.
#4. Learning new ways to preserve the harvest is ongoing, so we're building a simple solar food dehydrator this year, using a design by Tom Bartels of GrowFoodWell. In 2021, I dehydrated onions, beets, tomatoes, dozens of herbs and flowers, and even some leafy greens, using my oven and a small electric food dryer. My success has convinced us to try something on a larger scale, and I guess we shall have to wait and see if our northerly climes will provide adequate sun-power. We've got our fingers crossed!
So, I just checked the weather forecast, and it seems this trend is predicted to hold on for a while—or, at least for the week ahead. Maybe I will find motivation to put away the outdoor Christmas decorations, too.
Or maybe not.