Winter Work

winter-dreamingIt’s the last day of January, a cold day (8 degrees F at 1 pm) with just enough of a breeze that I probably won’t venture out for some cross-country skiing about the land.  And tomorrow we’re supposed to get more snow and then more again.  Sounds just the way January ought to exit and February find its way in.

Inside, I’m sitting by the fire, taking advantage of the lull between shipments for the Subscription Series (next one ships out on February 10–lots of Moroccan Memories ordered for that date–wondering why people were so drawn to that date for that menu–Valentine’s Day?).  I have gone through the seeds left over from last season,

Some favorite seed catalogues


young za'atar

ordered the ones I need, and spent a good long time looking through seed catalogues for things I might have missed or that would make good contenders for the experimental sections of the garden.  Quinoa, for example, buried in the Seeds of Change catalogue.  Can I really grow it in Vermont?  With its 100-110 days-to-maturity requirement and 70 degree soil temperature needed for germination, well, maybe not, but I’m going to give it a go, planting a few pots under the grow lights and see what happens when I transplant it to the garden in June. And Zaatar from seed–Johnny‘s and Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds both carry it!  I plan to grow a dozen plants or so, to have plenty for drying this year. I’m pleased to see more varieties of fava beans and cannelini and will hope that soon paprika peppers will be all the rage and therefore more strains will find their way to seed distributors.

ready for pickingAnd then there’s the fruit, nut and berry planning.  We’re planting a hazelnut grove this year (read about the edible nuts we can grow in the north country) and some Korean pine trees (edible pine nuts!), extending the fruit orchard with additional heirloom apples, pears, peaches, cherries and plums.  I’ll plant another row of raspberries out at the edge of the field, and double the number of black currant bushes.  Gooseberries, much as I love them, haven’t done all that well in my garden and are decimated by the chipmunks (they suck the juice right out and scatter the skins about like tiny, pink popped balloons.  I’m not sure if I want to plant more of them…

We’re restoring our old former dairy barn and throwing around ideas for how to bring it to life and the 10-acre field it anchors in a way that would benefit the human community while not disturbing the wildlife:

at a neighborhood communal oven in Fes

— a wood-burning community oven along the lines of communal ovens in Morocco?

— a pick-your-own sunflower & lavender field?

— a sunflower field for seed?

–a community orchard and nut grove where people can plant a tree or two and tend it?

Lots of ideas percolate at this time of year as the light grows longer but the nights stay cold, and the skies fill with snow.  I’m not even venturing into the basement yet to set up the grow lights–not for another week or so.  I’ll remind myself to stay calm and in the season, not trying to push into spring too quickly, showing the kind of willpower I did last spring.

And so instead, I’ll strap on my skis and take inventory of the shrub-nesting bird nests in the dogwood and make plans to hack away at the prickly ash and some of the cedars that are shading out good nesting areas. A different kind of farming…

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Garden, Musing, Seasons

2 Comments on “Winter Work”

  1. February 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Gorgeous images, Barbara, esp. that icicle.

    Are you thinking of an earth oven, come spring?

  2. February 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Thanks, Bryan. It’s a winter for icicles, that’s for sure.

    I am indeed thinking of an earth oven– adventures ahead!

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