Winter Winds and Spring Gardens

Emilee Gettle talks about winter hitting the homestead, and what you can begin doing — even surrounded by ice — to plan for your spring garden.

  • Editor, author, and homesteader Emilee Gettle at work in her garden.
    Photo by Brian Dunne

Dear friends,

The cold winter wind whips around our seed store rattling the nearby barn doors and picking up leaves and carrying them to the valley where our gardens grow. Flower seed heads shake in the breeze and the limbs of our apple trees bend under the weight of ice. It's hard to believe that just a few months ago we were complaining about a seemingly endless drought and unbearable heat. There is a bit of spinach that is still managing to survive the bitter weather, which we enjoy nibbling on during our chilly evening walk.

Following our walk, I can use our own frozen and canned vegetables for dinner. After being spoiled with homegrown fruits and vegetables, it’s pure torture to endure a winter without remembrances of summer's bounty. So, with each meal, we’re able to add a touch of summer back to our plate by cooking our preserved abundance.

Even though the garden lies sleeping for a season, we are eagerly anticipating spring once again. Winter is the perfect time to get a head start on next year's garden. If you've grown your own produce by purchasing plants at your local nursery, that's wonderful. However, I encourage you to try starting a few varieties in your own home. There is such a sense of satisfaction picking fruit from plants you've started yourself! In this issue refer to Shelley Stonebrook’s article “Seed Starting Made Easy” on page 8 for some handy tips and tricks to ensure a bountiful harvest!

Also, winter is the perfect time to be proactive. Take some time to curl up by the fire with a good book that profiles pests that plague your garden. Many times these books also offer natural and organic alternatives to chemical pest killers that you can make yourself. Grab a book devoted to organic pesticide recipes and dog-ear the most pertinent pages for quick reference. When planting season rolls around, you won't be caught off guard when the pests make their spring debut.

As we pull out our calendar for the new year, don't forget to save the date for our Spring Planting Festival in Mansfield, Missouri, which will be held May 5-6, 2013. Our annual event features the largest heirloom plant sale in America! You won't want to miss out on thousands of rare and unusual heirloom seedlings, as well as Ozark crafters and historic musicians.



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