|Posted on February 3, 2013 at 9:10 PM|
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always very interesting and inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution to the weekly harvest recaps for the week of January 28th through February 3rd, 2013.
We are still in the winter mode of eating which means most of the vegetables are coming from our storage and freezer supplies, but I did harvest some fresh Toscano kale on Sunday.
This was steamed until tender, then chopped and sautéed in olive oil with some crushed garlic and served with a little crumble of goat cheese to top it. The kale accompanied chicken cordon bleu and fettuccini pasta in a creamy garlic/parmesan sauce for our Sunday evening dinner.
The seeds I started last weekend are up and growing. The celery just barely but they have emerged. It takes daily attention to move the lights up frequently enough to keep the taller seedlings from touching them as they grow, and to ensure the soil is kept moist. I have had to add seedling care to my morning routine once again. It will be time to start another round of seeds in about two weeks.
I continued the steady progress of working to tidy up the garden through the month of February. By doing a small amount each weekend for the coming weeks, I will have gotten things in good shape for the big spring push of early plantings and soil prep. Previously I tidied up the greenhouse and cleaned up the backmost garden bed. This weekend, I focused on cleaning up the artichoke bed and the bed that had the squash in it last year. The squash went late into the fall so I did not bother doing a fall clean up and it needed attention. The artichokes have been overwintering with essentially no protection and most of the top growth had been hammered by some January freezes, but the roots look healthy and the middle plant has some good top growth still going despite the freezes. Here’s what the squash patch looked like before I got started on the tidy up.
And here is the artichoke bed before I did any work on it.
After I removed the plastic mulch from the old squash patch, the hens moved right in and began really working that bed, finding worms and other bugs that were hiding underneath there.
I removed the soaker hoses from the long bed and then grubbed out the weeds in both the big bed and the smaller artichoke bed. The spent and damaged foliage of the artichoke plants were trimmed away too. The artichoke bed was then given a layer of worm casting compost. I won’t give them a side dressing of actual fertilizer until at least mid-March because we will get many more nights with below freezing temperatures yet and I don’t want to encourage lush new top growth that would be vulnerable to freezing. Here’s the two beds as tidied up.
Saturday (February 2nd) was Ground Hogs Day which marks the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – a point in time also known as Imbolc. By the time February 2 arrives, we have completed the most difficult portion of our ascent out of winters darkest point (December 21st – winter solstice), and are heading towards the longed for beginning of spring (March 21st – spring equinox). As a gardener, I always celebrate Ground Hogs Day because it really represents the turning point in the winter season and buds and early shoots soon follow. In fact, I noticed Sunday that the garlic bed has tips of emerging growth showing and the rhubarb crowns are showing some bright new growth just at the soil level. The days are getting noticeably longer and the sun strength is increasing too. The hens are responding by laying eggs regularly and reliably once again.
Our injured hen has been healing up nicely but has a permanently damaged wing (it droops) from her encounter. She has been indoors for many weeks now recovering from her raccoon attack with only brief supervised daily foraging trips out of doors. She has been away from the flock long enough, and her drooping wing makes her look differently enough, that reintroducing her to the flock is proving a challenge. I was scheduled to clean the chicken coop and yard this weekend anyways, so after I completed that task we used some garden bird netting to divide the hen house in two. We stretched it out from ceiling to floor and used a staple gun to attach it to the walls of the coop and used long heavy blocks of wood at the base to keep it secure at the bottom. The side with the chicken door will be for the 3 uninjured hens, and the other side with the man door is now the home of the injured hen. The netting wall keeps her safe from the other hens, but allows them to see each other and interact. She will stay there for a few more weeks with her daily supervised foraging outings worked in until she gets stronger and seems more accepted by the flock. She has been a great little house pet but I am glad to have her back outside once again. I think she is happier too.
Are you noticing longer days and the earliest signs of spring where you are too?