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No, not really. The weather has been so screwy. This has been the second batch of sixty dgree days this month. Not normal for January. It will get cold again. Our frost date is May 31st. The last two years it did frost on Memorial Day. I have never seen green grass and green plants at this time of year before. We have also had two bouts of single degree temps or colder. However, the ground was warm when they hit so not all plants died. I picked up The Winter Garden by Eliot Coleman. He lives in Maine. It has a very cold winter climate. He has some winter gardening tips so that you can have some crops during the winter. But you have to start them earlier, in fall, say mid-October or late September. They don't grow in winter. They keep in winter. Get them growing under a cover and just harvest all winter. So my thought was to establish some early spring crops indoors under lights. As the weather hits one of these warm spurts, harden them off and get them planted under a row cover. So when we get these frosts, they are protected. Otherwise stuff has been bolting too soon as it heats up in early May. Early May has been hitting 90° temps several years running. Because I sell wool hats and yarn, I know very well when the hot weather hits my business. All sales stop. I have years of data.

And then there is Justin Rhodes. He has been influencing my thought process a lot lately. If you have never heard of him before, check out his Youtube channel. You will enjoy. He is the Chicken Ninja Master. Soon, he will be embarking on The Great American Farm Tour with a converted bus that he is learning to drive. He and his family of five will be traveling all over the US and Canada on an amazing bus, named Maple. Last year he grew 75% of his own food in 100 days! I learned a lot from him. I just don't have a budget yet. So I have plans for growing food that we ended up buying a lot of this last year. Start with a plan. Don't be too ambitious. You want to actually achieve your goals and build on that success.

Enjoying This Book

So as I was weaving today. I noticed a book on my shelf. I must have picked it up at the co-op. I found some time late this afternoon to go through it. It starts with my herb spiral. Now I started mine after watching PermaculturePA on Youtube, but the Edible Landscaping book has nice detailed plans for the herb spiral. It explains the different microclimates that are created within this structure, assuming your spiral is on flat ground. Ours is not. However, the plant placement map is still a good rule of thumb. Our rosemary hates the spiral. It refuses to thrive. It took us two years to get yarrow established but we did manage it. The thyme died again last year as did the marjoram and sage. We lost over half of the soil in the pile. It wasn't due to erosion. It was due to decomposition. Since the mound was mostly made of coffee grounds, it does a couple of things. First, coffee grounds heat up as they decompose. Combine with direct sun and bricks (heat mass) and the temperature of the bed was too hot. The second thing could have been the nitrogen. Either it wasn't in a form the plants could use, or the grounds sucked nitrogen out of the plants as they broke down. Either way, some plants didn't like the spiral. Basil did thrive and so did the skirret. The jury is still out on the chamomile and the chives. The hyssop is doing okay. We hope to build on what we have and try again this year.

Herb Spiral in Winter

One of the plants to go into our spiral will be parsley. This is one herb we did not have enough of. Justin says, since you want to eat everyday, you should plant everyday. So I may be premature, but I started a seed tray today. I picked five plants, four of which will go into the early spring garden. Parsley can live in the house until the weather settles. The grocery store had herbs in pots for sale today. I didn't buy any but that means it is time. For us, it's more a matter of how dry the house gets in winter and whether my babies survive my week at Gulf Wars. Anyway, I want at least 24 leek plants. I found two outside in pots that finally germinated after months of tending. I planted them last April. I left them to die in October. They just were not growing. I decided to rescue them from the negative temps a few weeks ago. They are hanging out in the front window, still doing well. They are Tadorna Leeks from High Mowing Seeds. My newly planted leeks will be King Richard from Botanical Interests. We'll see how those germinate.

Seed Tray #1

I picked up a seed blocking tool so that I don't need pots yet. It was developed by Eliot Coleman. It's really neat. Johnny's Seeds carries this tool. I filled one tray. If those plants outgrow their 2" cube of soil, I have 4" pots available for transplanting them. It makes cubes as shown here: https://www.johnnyseeds.com/tools-supplies/seed-starting-supplies/trays-domes-and-flats/soil-block-propagation-trays---pack-of-5-9397.html#q=Seed%2Bblock&lang=en_US&start=1
Here's hoping I can get some plants growing.

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