If your home is anything like our homestead, the months of December and January are very quiet.
This winter rest ends, however, the final week of January. Knowing how and when we will take care of other essentials makes life on the homestead easier. Of course, we will probably have to deal with unplanned repairs because it's a farm and things will always happen. It's life! So in January, the planning and prep work for our garden is a constant top priority.
Plan your crops to grow this year.
When we plan what we want to plant throughout the year, we get the most out of our garden. In most cases, we decide on this by the third or fourth week of January. We don't spend space on crops we don't like we only plant what we eat the most in our garden. That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't experiment! Always try new things.
Fresh herbs, radishes, asparagus, cabbage, onions, beets, new potatoes, ramps, cherries, and green peas are perennial springtime staples. In the summer, we like having unlimited access to tomatoes, green beans, figs, peaches, bell and chili peppers, and zucchini. Sugar pumpkins, butternut squash, turnips, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, pears, and apples are among the seasonal favorites. Additionally, a lot of our dishes in the wintertime involve leeks, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
I also strongly reccomend you to look into medicinal plants used by our ancestors. As a homesteader, one of your goals should be to learn about the tools that our ancestors utilized, and have things on hand. When we were kids, our grandparents always had a cure for any ailment we had. If we don't act now, these cures are on the verge of being permanently lost to history.
Start seedlings and rhizomes, as well as bulbs.
I enjoy starting seedlings indoors towards the middle of January to jumpstart the growing season. I accomplish this by placing a very improvised "greenhouse" setup in the basement of our home. But, you can easily do the same with a plant heat pad, soil, containers, seeds, and basic flourescent light! Don't fall for all the grow light hype. Simple flourescents work just fine.
Make the garden beds ready.
I check the soil's pH after clearing the garden beds of the dead leaves and twigs accumulated throughout the winter. The value of measuring your soil's PH is hotly contested in the gardening community.
However, because I frequently allow organic debris to accumulate on top of the garden beds, there is always a chance that the PH of the soil may become unbalanced. The soil is then aerated, and a fresh layer of compost is added. I also take use of this time to design the garden's layout. It's crucial to rotate the crops in their garden bed and combine them with companion plants.
Determine your last "frost date" by googling your area. This will give you a projected "sort of" date for your last frost. We all know the weather has been wacky, so have some frost cloth handy!
The first week of March, I start planting cold-resistant vegetables and hardier seedlings. Most of my seedlings by this point are between 6 and 8 weeks old. Look for your seedlings to drop their "seed leaves" (two or more leaves).
Observe the trees.
I'm concerned about the health of the trees on our property, and we make sure to take care of them throughout the year. By doing this during the tree's dormant season, you can speed up the healing process and reduce disease. This is for all your trees, not just your landscape and ornimental ones.
Dust off your gear, folks! It's almost go time!
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