Y’all! We are MAKING IT. Through winter I mean.
For my part, I have been quite thoroughly enjoying the ever-increasing daylight during my drives home from work. It is the most tangible sign of the move towards Spring, even when the snow is in the forecast and the bottom is dropping out of the thermometer. After all, we aren’t out of the woods yet…
The other tangible sign of impending Spring? The grow lights are on folks! I’ll get a separate post up with a review of my growing set-up and new additions sometime soon, but I have some Cobea scandens and Celeriac working away under the lights since these two are notoriously slow to get going and need a longer season to reach their peak here in the North. Everything else has a bit of a wait before they hit dirt, but it is still nice to have some new growth going and an extra warm room full of bright light on those still-dark evenings.
I will say, however, that the sunrises in winter have been spectacular so far. At least it has that going for it!
I really loved this article about how areas of the south, previously off limits to growing citrus, are now becoming the new citrus-growing-hot-spot. Climate change, y’all!
The Bitter Southerner has had some really great articles lately, not least this one on Comfort Farms (who are also a great follow on Instagram)- an Acute Veteran’s Crisis Agriculture Center- who’s aim is to help veterans learn agriculture skills for future careers and provide a community to aid in healing and reintegration. As a former MilSpouse, it warms my heart to see amazing projects like this have such incredible success while also recognizing how impactful gardening can be on mental wellbeing.
‘Tis the season for citrus, so why not read about a New Yorker who took on growing citrus trees in her dark apartment. If she can do it- so can you! There are few things as rewarding as eating the citrus you’ve coddled and grown yourself… if you are looking for a new houseplant to try, let this be your guide! (Might I suggest Four Winds Growers for all your citrus plant needs, they are easily my favorite as their quality and variety is unmatched)
A wonderful article in the Smithsonian about the REAL history of Yellowstone, before it became Yellowstone. Want a fun side fact about Yellowstone and yours truly? A long-since-removed relative, Truman Everts, on my father’s side got himself lost in the wilderness on the 1870 Washburn expedition to the area before it became Yellowstone. He was lost- an managed to survive!!!- for a whole THIRTY SEVEN DAYS with very little food and equipment- and he lost his horse!- so they named this mountain (below) and a rather lovely thistle after him. There’s even a book about his misfortunes, but while it is awesome to have a mountain in Yellowstone with your maiden name on it, he wasn’t the greatest of characters (marrying a 14 year old girl and complaining that the mountain named after him wasn’t grand enough) so… win some, lose some, right?
Winter Pimm’s Cocktail is a delicious way to get some Pimm’s back into your rotation while there’s still snow on the ground while still offering a lighter alternative to all those hot buttered rums and Irish coffee’s we’d been favoring in January. May I recommend swapping the lager for a dry cider? Its excellent!
Spaghetti with Lemon, Parmesan, and Cream– we’ve long made a lemony shrimp pasta that’s secret ingredient was cream cheese, but this is far more elegant and refined. And delicious!
Here, winter is always chili season and while there are more recipes than there are stars in the sky (slight hyperbole, perhaps), we’ve loved getting creative with how we eat that chili thanks to our dear friends who introduced us to chili-mac (Hi Lyandra!). Down the rabbit hole we went with a bunch of fun new ways to either get your chili fix or use up those leftovers. All iterations of shaksusha are delicious, but doing it with chili is a revelation!
And then there is this Old Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting. IT. IS. DELICIOUS. But it is sweet, so if you want to make it (you totally should because it has delicious chunks of baked apple and… oh, it is tasty!) I’d recommend cutting way down on the sugar to 1 cup instead of the 1 2/3 cup it recommends. You could even go less because the frosting is super sweet too, and I think the cake would be just as good without it. Also, if you don’t have apple pie spice, may I recommend using this DIY Mixed Spice, it is my favorite spice blend and I use it in everything from oatmeal to banana bread and wherever you want a more nuanced spice than just plain cinnamon.
Get your soil/seed starting mix/perlite/coconut coir or whatever you use for your seedlings in hand now. It seems that the gardening fervor brought on by lock-downs and the pandemic hasn’t lost steam, so get your hands on the gear you are going to need before it isn’t available!
Double check all your equipment and sterilize your growing containers. Make sure your lights and heat mats are all in working order. Replace any cracked/damaged pots and trays. Stock up on plant labels and whatever else is essential to your set-up!
Learn some things! I recently took an online course (for about $15) from the Mt. Cuba Center on native groundcovers. Yes, its geared mostly to the mid-Atlantic region, but much of it applies zone-wise to the Midwest too and I learned some great information. Look around for other online courses (thankfully, the pandemic seemed to push more places into putting course material up in online formats).
Consider the following courses:
- Planting the Piet Oudolf Way
- The Cutting Garden
- Basic Botany
- Garden Design Magazine has a number of great and affordable courses
- Texas A&M Agrilife have a number of free courses that are really exceptional and, again, FREE!
- Oregon State University Master Gardener program also has a number of affordable courses
Alright! That’s it for now. Stay tuned for some seed-starting updates and the plans for 2021’s vegetable garden! Stay well, stay safe, and I’m hoping all of you can get your vaccine soon!