What Gardeners Do in Winter

“Oh, you’re a gardener, so what do you do in the winter?  You don’t grow food right?” 

I love this question because there are so many cool things gardeners do in the cold months.

Awesome October harvest
Awesome October harvest

November means cooking up yummy dishes from soups to pies from autumn’s harvest. The more you store in your root cellar, garage, basement and fridge from the year’s bounty, the more bang for the buck you get from your garden. If you get into fermenting and canning, your benefits go up even more.

If you planted a mid-summer crop of potatoes, December is a great time to harvest them. How cool is it to have friends over for dinner for the holidays and servethem fresh potatoes you harvest last week! So cool.

ferment your harvest
Home make kimchee from early winter harvest

December also brings opportunity to share your bounty. You can gift those you love with home grown and dried herbs or fruits.  One year we gave everyone popcorn we grew.  Another year, it was kimchee we made from fall grown cabbage.

December also brings the first of the seed catalogs and these are one of the best things to read while sipping a cup of hot tea/coffee/coco on a cold wintry day in January and February.  This is the time to dream about what you will grow next year .. oh, but wait .. we also do our seed inventory and reflect on what worked and what didn’t during the year with things like:

  • Did we use up seed of our favorite tomato variety?
  • Did anything new we tried do great or horrid, or just so-so?
  • Was there a whole crop fail? This is the time we chat with each other to see if everyone in our community had a bad year with that, or if we need advice on what might have happened in our garden.
Seed Catalogs
Catalogs from some of our recommended companies.

Reading seed catalogs lets us dream of warmer days in spring and plan what we want to do next year in the garden. They also provide useful information and are great resources.

A creative winter garden project is designing the next phase of our garden.  Whether it be the next phase of our long range garden plan (this is the year I put in blueberries and asparagus!) or so a new garden follow-on layout from spring and summer.  Maybe you expand it into fall and winter if you have not yet ventured into four season gardening.

collards are sweeter after frost
Winter collards harvest during snowmageddon

Likely the most rewarding is the continued harvest.  My favorite winter harvest story is from a few years ago during a winter storm dubbed ‘snowmageddon’. It was the biggest snowfall I’d ever been in.  We dug a path to the collards, buried deep in the snow to harvest some for dinner, and honestly they were the sweetest collards I’ve ever eaten.

Harvesting in winter can be less dramatic, simply have a few things in a simple hoop house or cold frame that could be harvestable in winter and certainly when they get a warm day or two to grow a bit and provide more food offerings.

grow food from seed
Young seedlings under lights in winter

Winter is also the time to start early spring and some summer crops.  Your brassicas can be started indoors to be hardened off and planted our as soon as the ground softens up.  Some summer crops like basil and peppers that take a long time to germinate and get growing also benefit from being started in late winter.

I’m also in mid-swing with teaching The Foundations of Organic Gardening Course, which empowers people to be successful gardeners.

Winter is a great time study, dream, muse, plan, order seeds, start seedlings and chat with other gardeners.

Why Grow Your Health?

Grow Your Health logo 2014For three years now I have been honored to be a part of the team who put on the Grow Your Health, Gardening, Local Food and Wellness Festival.

There are several reasons for our participation in this local annual event:

First off, we are passionate about spreading the word of growing your own food. Gardening is a great way to get outside, off our computers for a few, and get back to our roots –  sometimes literally –  in the case of carrots and radishes. Grow Your Health is a great venue to talk gardens and empower people to garden.spring greens in deck house close up

The festival is also about local food. This local festival gets community members together with local farms and healthy food providers in a fun environment.   Connecting folks with our local farmers and practitioners enriches our local economy. It also allows each to expand their community support system. Families supporting family farms was part of how this country was built and these relationship nurture the heart of everyone involved.

The third focus of the festival is wellness, not only of our bodies through various support systems, but also the wellness of the planet that supports us all. The movie we are showing this year, GMO OMG talks primarily about the potential effects of genetically modified organisms in our food, but the business of growing these has major impacts on the wellness of planet earth.

Helping the neGrow-Your-Health-2014-kids-gardening-class-3xt generations learn about healthy practices for themselves and their planet, how to connect with the planet through gardening and knowing where their food comes from is part of the family value this festival can provide. Each year we strive to make the event better for families to attend, more fun for children and provide everyone who attends an enriching community event.

Come out and join us, Saturday, March 28, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm.

Stop by the Prior Unity Garden Booth and sign up for the raffle to win some prizes.

As part of the class lineup, Russell will be part of a Gardening Q&A at 11:00 am and Debby will be teaching Small Space Gardening at 1:30 pm.

We’ll also have spring plants and other cool stuff.

MORE EVENT  INFO

GET TICKETS – Adults $10 in advance, $15 at the door – Children under 16 FREE

deb and russ at the booth – Debby Ward,Founder & Owner of Prior Unity Garden & Management Team Member, Grow Your Health – Gardening, Local Food & Wellness Festival

 

Grow Your Health Festival 2015

gyh banner1

We'll have baby lettuce, kale, chard and arugula plants for your spring garden.
We’ll have baby lettuce, kale, chard and arugula plants for your spring garden.

Come celebrate spring at the Grow Your Health – Gardening, Local Food and Wellness Festival on March 28, from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm. W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax VA.

Come take classes on gardening, food and wellness. I’ll be teaching Small Space Gardening and Russell will be teaching about building healthy living soil.

Watch the movie, GMO OMG, enjoy local artisan food and stop by our booth and get your baby spring greens plants !

More info

Get a ticket NOW

Come by the Prior Unity Garden Booth at the Grow Your Health Festival and say hi !
Come by the Prior Unity Garden Booth at the Grow Your Health Festival and say hi !

Growing Your Health

Grow Your Health logo 2014One of the reasons to grow your own food is because home grown organic food is good for your health.  We don’t really know what genetically modified food will do to us over the long term, but for those who don’t want to chance it, home grown food can help.

This year and last year we were compelled to sponsor Grow Your Health, Gardening, Food & Wellness Festival because it is a great place for our community to learn about how gardening links with yummy food and good health.  All good things, right ? You bet !

This year at Grow Your Health, we will have a raffle at our table for winning prizes.  In addition we will have our new product line that includes our Seed Starting Kit, Laminated Companion Planted Garden Designs and Debby’s new booklet on seed starting and seed buying.  We will also have plants ! Yes, yummy spring greens plants to put in your garden.

Come by the Prior Unity Garden Booth at the Grow Your Health Festival and say hi !
Come by the Prior Unity Garden Booth at the Grow Your Health Festival and say hi !
Debby developed the Prior Unity Garden Seed Starting Kit as a seed starting system to insure your success growing plants from seed.
Debby Ward developed the Prior Unity Garden Seed Starting Kit as a seed starting system to insure your success growing plants from seed.

Debby & Russell will each offer a class.  Debby will talk about Growing Food in a Small Space, covering useful tid bits for containers, townhouses and small space gardening on a larger property. Russell will talk about how a good garden design, including permaculture design principles allows for productive use of your space so you really get what you want from it.

But we are only part of Grow Your Health, last year we had over 450 visitors and we expect more this year.

The event, which is Sunday March 23rd, from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm at Woodson High School, will have at least 21 classes and demos, many local vendors who provide services and products to help you not only grow food, but find local health foods, and improve your health and well being in several ways.   The food court will have local food vendors providing meals for most all diets (think vegetarian, meat lovers and raw foodies) along with food artisans of various kinds.

They even have stuff for kids !

For a crazy reasonable price in advance of $10 for adults and free for children under 16, this event is really a fun day of learning, good food and making new friends, along with the old ones you bring along to share the experience.

Stop by the Prior Unity Garden booth, say hi.. and maybe win something too !

Stop by and get your spring greens plants.  We will have kales, chard, lettuce and more.
Stop by and get your spring greens plants. We will have kales, chard, lettuce and more.