Thursday, December 13, 2012
Since I've started gardening what I would call "seriously", I've been astounded at the fact I never really thought about gardening throughout the cold months until a couple of years ago. This is compounded by the fact I live in the South, where winter gardening is relatively easy, but the sad truth is I had never thought about it because I had never really seen it done, even here. Oh, you might see some people grow a few cabbage in the fall but by Thanksgiving everybody had rolled up the garden until warm weather.
Of course, I didn't grow up eating a lot of broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus and other "exotic" veggies, so it didn't occur to anybody around me that you would want to grow those things. We just ate summer veggies that had been canned for the winter, but no thought of veggies that would actually grow in those cold months, or "seasonal eating" as we say now. I enjoy seasonal eating and gardening and my winter garden has improved quite a lot over the past few years. Constant amendment of the soil is paying off! Of course, we do put up a good bit of summer fruits and veggies for winter consumption but I really think seasonal gardening is an important part of a healthy diet and self-sufficiency. Cool weather crops are really nutritious and fresh is always better than frozen or canned. You can't beat going grocery shopping in your yard either.
This year I may have planted enough broccoli, I'm not sure yet! It was kinda just sitting there for some time but after a few rains we just recently got it has really taken off! I should be able to harvest a head or two soon. Good thing, I just cooked the last frozen bag I had put up in anticipation of eating fresh next. I should have lots of fresh broccoli for various Christmas dinners and lunches.
Even after cutting the heads the plant continues to put out side clusters, so these can be gathered for quite some time to make easy side dishes or quick snacks. The big leaves also get harvested a few at a time after most of the broccoli has been picked. These leaves go to the chickens to supplement their winter diet and make up for lack of green grass. They really love broccoli greens and cabbage. In fact, they were SO enthusiastic about the cabbage leaves that, in the spring when my hostas started coming up, they thought, hey, these look like cabbage, and mowed every one of them down to the ground. They had walked all around the hostas for weeks without bothering them until one day I gave them cabbage leaves and I guess they thought the leaves looked similar. Oh well.
The Bok Choy I planted from seed has done really well. I haven't actually eaten this yet though. I love it in a stir fry but just haven't had the meat I wanted or the gumption to make one yet. Fortunately, since it's cool, it can just kinda sit in the garden without bolting or spoiling until I get ready for it.
The new girls, and the old ones that were molting, have mostly began their laying and we are getting 8-10 eggs a day. Of course, some of them are still small eggs but they are getting bigger. It won't be long we'll be needing to start selling eggs again. We finally sold 5 of the new hens and 2 older ones. I got $12 each for the young ones and we sold Pretty Hen and Prissy for $5 each. I kinda hated to sell them but we just had way too many chickens for that coop house. So, that paid for a bit of feed and the cost of ordering those chicks to begin with.
So, finally we are starting to see a bit of return on some things instead of constantly putting out. Of course, it's all a cycle and sometimes you have to wait a little but hopefully I'll get better about planning for these things so there is much less time between cycles.
I believe I told ya'll I finally finished all the corporate pottery orders I had, so now is just making general stock. These are the honey pots I had to make for the last order. I thought most of them came out well.
Christmas is drawing near however, and my time to produce a tremendous amount of stock is getting much shorter. After about the 18th or 19th I won't be throwing much, just firing the last bit of stuff to take in. That's well and good however because then I can wind down and take time to enjoy my holiday decorating, cooking and just relaxing.