Why is she putting a rotisserie chicken in the snow?

Winter-sown "greenhouses"
Winter-sown “greenhouses”

No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses. We’re doing some winter sowing again this year, and I have 3 milk jugs and a rotisserie chicken container outside next to the blueberries. Give those containers one more job before you send them to the recycling bin. Today I did some tomato seed and some buttercup winter squash…wait, how did squash get in my garden plan? It was supposed to be tomatoes and greens, keeping it simple.  I think I know.

They know when we are vulnerable.
They know when we are vulnerable. Look at those covers.

It’s those seed and garden supply catalogs that have been arriving since mid-December. The bustle of the holidays over, the gradually thickening catalog pile makes for big gardening dreams.  That’s the thing about gardening: every year is full of possibilities. Anything could happen. Everything might grow. The weeds might stay small and well-behaved. The slugs might not show up this year.  Admiring the snow as it floats down past the spruce tree, I can already see myself going barefoot across the lawn, reaching over the fence, picking that perfect tomato.

I’ll be digging out the cold frame in March. By that I mean digging it out of the snow. I set it up last fall, angled slightly toward the south, and got some shower doors for covers at a home building resale shop. I need to get the doors on it and let the soil warm up for an extra early planting. In my 2013 New Year’s book roundup, I wrote about finding Niki Jabbour’s book, The Year-round Vegetable Gardener, and how my skepticism gave way to excitement. She writes of ways to extend the season that work even in cold climates like mine. It’s the garden book I come back to most. Although a grow light would be helpful for starting some seedlings indoors, most of her techniques rely on season extenders like row covers, cold frames, succession planting, and choosing varieties that work with the length of the seasons of your gardening region. I don’t have a good space indoors for a grow light, but between winter sowing some seedlings, getting a few seedlings at garden centers or the farmer’s market, and direct sowing into the garden, my garden should still be fine. This is also the year I plan to get two rain barrels up and set up a small hugelkultur bed (with pieces of the ill-fated apple tree and assorted other branches and woody material). Friends with chain saws, expect a call from me come spring time!



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