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Garden in January, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

January 6, 2016

Here is what the garden looked like at the beginning of December.DSC_1018-EditAnd after a very warm and wet December, here is what it looks like at the beginning of January.

Nieto Photography 2015

The grass is greener, what with the warm, wet weather. But the blueberry bushes have lost most of their leaves.

My husband had some extra time this weekend and decided to help me cover the strawberry beds, rip up some tarp, and haul a LARGE amount of mulch!

Nieto Photography 2015Strawberry beds before…

Nieto Photography 2015And after (covered with poop and mulch).Nieto Photography 2015I scraped all of the poop off of the roosting table, spread it over the strawberry beds and over some bare ground after he ripped up some tarp. Then, I spread all of the mulch he hauled. The kids’ job was to weed where we were spreading mulch.

Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015(that patch of green is a small patch of overwintering spinach)`

We got SOOO much done, it seems, but in reality, we only weeded, put down manure, and covered about 1/10th of the garden with mulch. Ah well, there’s only so much we can do at a time. All of that pitching, hauling, and raking of the mulch does a number on your back, arms, and hands!

We have picked the spot for our new raspberry plants so the next time my husband has a free day, we will weed, rip up tarp and cover that area with manure and mulch as well.

The garden looks a bit different now than in the first picture. The temperatures really dropped yesterday and we had our first snow! Just flurries. Not much stuck. Anyway, before the snow, we covered everything with the lightweight garden fabric. Part of me thinks we should have gone with the heavier garden fabric but it is only going to be in the low 20s for two nights then it will jump back into lows in the 40s and 50s. I am hoping everything will be okay and I will put the heavier fabric on when the low temps are here to stay.

Here is an overview of what the garden looks like in early January:Nieto Photography 2015Brassica transplants to be…? idk. transplanted later? eaten off of? We’ll see. Nieto Photography 2015Purple headed cabbage. Hopefully we will get an early spring harvest from these. Nieto Photography 2015celery Nieto Photography 2015cilantro Nieto Photography 2015Carrots & spinach Nieto Photography 2015Brassicas (broccoli, sprouting broccoli, and cabbage)

I love seeing the changes from month to month. I wonder what it will look like at the beginning of February?


Harvest Monday

December 14, 2105

We are not harvesting anything fresh out of the garden right now. We are waiting on some carrots, kale, and cabbages to mature. Everything else planted (spinach, lettuce, more carrots, cabbages, broccoli, and sprouting broccoli) will be harvest-ready in early spring when our days lengthen a bit more.

We are using our free pumpkins from the pumpkin farm little by little in baked oatmeal and other baked goods. And we are on box 3 of 6 of sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will last us through February this year 😦Nieto Photography 2015(sweet potatoes wrapped in newspaper over to the side…all of the little pumpkins are gone now and only half of the big ones are left)

We are using our frozen tomatoes in soups and marinara as needed. I can’t imagine ever using all of them up but we’ll see! We also have about a gallon of frozen green beans left from this summer.

I ordered most of my seeds and all of my garden potatoes this week. I am planning on growing my own sweet potato slips this year. My home-grown slips seemed to do just as well or even better than the ones I bought last year. I still need to order my June-bearing strawberries and June-bearing raspberries and I should be set! Per usual, I just have to figure out where everything will go.

I am really hoping my husband’s schedule will slow down soon so we can rip up a bunch of tarp and expand the garden so I will have more planting options this next year!

Is your garden sleeping or are you still harvesting? Head over to Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are up to this December.

Garden in December, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

December 1, 2015

Beginning of NovemberNieto Photography 2015Beginning of DecemberDSC_1018-EditAt first glance, the differences are in the leaves. The blueberry bushes are a lovely red while the peach tree and some of our shade bushes have lost most of their leaves.

Let’s take a walk in the garden and see what is growing! First, here are some transplants that never got planted. They are all hardy. I may eat the tender leaves in salads throughout the winter or maybe even attempt to transplant them as I harvest throughout the winter, as room becomes available under the tunnels. We’ll see. 🙂DSC_1003 DSC_1004 DSC_1005Next up, a test plot of some late planted lettuce, spinach, and carrots (you can’t see anything but the lettuce because they are so small right now). I also planted some lettuce stumps from store-bought lettuce. I’ll need to cover this section pretty soon but right now, it’s still pretty mild around here.DSC_1006Next up, the tunnels! In the first tunnel, there are late-planted purple cabbages. They are pretty small so I am not sure when we will harvest them. Hopefully, I will remember to write down when we do so I know for next year 🙂DSC_1007In the tunnel next to this one, I have some green cabbages, some broccoli, and a lot of sprouting broccoli (purple and green). I have never done sprouting broccoli before but last spring when all of you other bloggers were overrun with PSB, I was wishing for some good broccoli so I bought some seeds this summer. I hope it works out. I’m hopeful and excited 🙂DSC_1009Next to these covered tunnels is an uncovered tunnel of celery. These were planted from store-bought last fall. They were shaded over the summer by tomato plants and they are providing us with a lot of wonderfully flavorful celery this fall.DSC_1010We have really enjoyed our volunteer kale this fall in our morning smoothies 🙂DSC_1011In the last row of tunnels, we have some of our earliest-transplanted cabbages.DSC_1012They are planted super close (I am horrible about doing this!!!) but some of them are starting to head up nicely. DSC_1013I’m basically waiting for them to harden. I am looking forward to fresh cabbage in our coleslaw and soups this December!!!!

Next to that box is a box of lettuce (direct-sown and store-bought stumps), spinach, and carrots.DSC_1014If you follow this blog and/or if you watch L2Survive’s videos of Paul Gautschi, you know that in his garden, he does NOT put down woodchips anymore. He puts down compost from his run. I decided to try this. Someone warned me that it would just encourage weeds but I wanted to try it. It worked in some sections and did not in others.

It seems to come down to sections of the garden with plenty of woodchips down already vs. sections of the garden with only a thin layer of woodchips. Here is a section that is newly covered with woodchips. This section has only been planted in once.DSC_1015So, the bad news is, covering this area with compost (instead of woodchips) produced a mat of weeds. The good news is, because of the woodchips, these weeds come up incredibly easily. Now, not two feet away, here is another section that was covered with compost (instead of woodchips):

DSC_1016Not a weed in sight.  So, it’s still an experiment but I’m not giving up. I would like for my garden to look more like Paul’s eventually (more compost, less woodchips). It is easier to plant in when you don’t have to dig down 6″ every time you want to plant, that’s for sure! 🙂 At the same time, I don’t want to encourage weeds. So, again, I’ll just keep experimenting and I’ll be sure to keep you updated 🙂

As far as December chores go, whenever we are blessed with a mild day, we will:

  • WEED
  • Possibly expand the garden (depending on my husband’s schedule and my energy level)
  • ORDER SEEDS!!!!!! AND BERRIES!!!!! (can you tell I’m excited? 😉 )
  • order bees (yes, we are venturing into that part of homesteading. I’m pretty nervous)

What’s going on in your garden? Do you grow crops in the fall? winter? What do you grow? Do you cover anything? I am always in experiment mode so any suggestions are more than welcome! I don’t want December to pass by quickly but at the same time, I am looking forward to seeing what everything looks like in January 🙂

Harvest Monday

November 23, 2015

We are harvesting kale and celery. These are the celery tops in the compost bowl. The bottoms were already in the soup 🙂

Nieto Photography 2015

Our berries are done. I need to go ahead and prune the raspberries and transplant them. We are having more freezing nights but most of our days are still reaching the 60s. Now, I have to figure out what to cover and with what thickness to cover.

Some of our free pumpkins were rotting in the basement so this week we threw those to the chickens and roasted some of the good ones. Nieto Photography 2015(roasted pumpkin, ready to be taken apart, pureed, and frozen)

We are also using our sweet potatoes, probably faster than I would like. They are SOOO good!Nieto Photography 2015(Ready to go into the oven. We like sprinkling them with cinnamon. 🙂 )

And the frozen omatoes are being cooked on a steady basis for marinara sauce and soups.

What are you harvesting? Head over to Our Happy Acres to see what others are harvesting these days.

Harvest Monday

November 16, 2015

This week, the sun decided to shine a bit so we were able to get out and weed a little bit. There is still a lot to be weeded but the goal is for each of us (the oldest 4 and me) to fill a 1 gallon bucket with weeds each day. I hope to get all of the garden weeded before the cold weather sets in. We are still in the 60s most days.

We were able to harvest some raspberries and kale this week. I am calling on neighbors and friends for help with my runaway raspberry canes. I am trying to give them away left and right but you cannot tell the patch has been touched at all. At some point this month, I’m going to need to find a place to put all of the extra canes. But where….?

We were able to get some pumpkins from the local pumpkin patch this week. It has been raining so much, most of them were rotten but the main reason we wanted them was for the chickens anyway. We are using them as free feed until we run out. The good ones were put in the basement.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015We threw some rotten ones to the chickens. These on the porch, are the rest of the ones that have soft spots. We throw them to the chickens throughout the day. Because of this, we are able to cut our feed bill in half. Such a blessing! Nieto Photography 2015All of the good pumpkins were put in our basement. The sweet potatoes, wrapped in newspaper, are to the right. This is our freezer room, where it is coolest. Not pictured (but also in here) are the onions and sunflowers harvested this summer.

We cooked, pureed, and froze some of the pumpkins this weekend. I was able to get 6 cups of puree out of 2.5 small pumpkins. We love eating pumpkin in our oatmeal and of course pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie! 🙂

What is going on in your garden? Check out what other gardeners are up to at Our Happy Acres today!