Tag: winter sowing

Happenings Around the Homestead

Whew! What a week this has been! There isn’t much happening around the homestead, as we received a whopper of a snow this past week, which was followed by another snow, extreme cold temperatures, and then on Friday night into Saturday we had sleet, freezing rain, and rain. As I write this on Saturday morning, I suspect it is a terrible mess outside. There have been reports of folks roofs leaking, flooding due to drains on roads being clogged with snow and ice, and roads that are in treacherous shape. It doesn’t seem like it will get much better today, as I am expecting the temperature to hover right above freezing all day. By the time this post goes live, this will all be old news though, and we will be talking about the blustery cold temperatures Monday will bring us again. I am so ready for spring. ūüėÄ

I am sure many of you looked at the pictures I took, mostly of birds, last week.  I also took a few around the house of some monster icicles:

Monster Icicles #1

Monster Icicles #1

Monster Icicles #2

Monster Icicles #2

Monster Icicles #3

Monster Icicles #3

I just went out to check on the chickens, and wow it is messy.  The rain is melting some of the snow, and water is pooling everywhere.  It remains to be seen how this will be at the end of the day.

Oh!  I took a few pictures of my winter sowing project!

Winter Sowing - Peeking Through

Winter Sowing – Peeking Through

Winter Sowing Holes

Winter Sowing Holes

Even with a slow week around here, it wasn’t without some homesteading excitement though. I received a packet of seeds from Slovenia! These are minerature blue popcorn kernels (seeds). ¬†Check out the seeds and the envelope:

Minerature Blue Popcorn Kernels from Slovenia

Minerature Blue Popcorn Kernels from Slovenia

I know, I know. ¬†I am a bit weird to get so excited over popcorn kernels, but I am excited to incorporate this into my popcorn landrace. ¬†Aren’t those stamps cool too‚ÄĹ


Happenings Around the Homestead

Every year about this time I fool myself into thinking spring is right around the corner.  We get a few warm days, and for some reason I believe winter is over.  Well, it is not!  It hit yesterday afternoon (Saturday) with a vengeance, and the temperature dropped several degrees in just a very short period of time.  This morning it is bitter cold outside, and they are saying we may get snow tonight!  My favorite weather forecaster, Beau Dodson, is saying the snow is very likely, as are some bitter cold temperatures mid week.

We attempted to cover the chicken coop with the tarp yesterday, but the wind was so strong it was merely an exercise in futility.

UPDATE: as of 4:30 AM on Monday morning, we have just over 3″ of snow. ¬†We were also able to cover the chicken coop yesterday to keep it a little better insulated. ¬†The chickens sure are enjoying having the new extended run though, as it allows them to get out in the sun, even when the rest is covered. ¬†We’ll see how they like that today with a big snow. ¬†ūüėÄ

Speaking of snow, I have long said that we get a real whopper of a snow storm (don’t laugh my New England friends) about every decade. ¬†A local weather enthusiast, Jason Darnell, did some research that backs this up. ¬†We have only had four single day snowfalls of greater than 8 inches, but look at the spacing:

  • December 22, 2004: 14 inches
  • February 15, 1993: 7.9 inches (yes, I know this is just under 8 inches, but it was followed 11 days later with another 7.3 inches).
  • January 16, 1978: 11 inches
  • March 6, 1967: 8 inches

As you can see, other than a 15 year span one time, we get an 8″ or greater snowfall about every decade.

As an interesting addition to this, in 1984 there was a two day snowfall of 8.2 inches and a one day snowfall of 7.1 inches, so we didn’t really skip that decade, we just had a five year snow prior to that. ¬†Actually, it looks like prior to 1984 we had a span of bigger snowfalls every five years, with a few interspersed one to three¬†year big snows:

  • 1984: one day snow of 7.1 inches and a separate two day snowfall of 8.2 inches
  • 1979: three day snowfall of 8 inches
  • 1978: 11 inches
  • 1975: one day snowfall of 5 inches
  • 1970: ¬†two day snowfall of 7 inches
  • 1967: 8 inches
  • 1965: two day snowfall of 7 inches

This week I did get the first round of winter sowing done.  Here let me share a little bit about that.

The principle is this: instead of using grow lights and having to harden of your plants, you begin by planting outside in mini-greenhouses.  During the winter the varying weather causes the seeds to freeze and thaw, expand and contract, and eventually grow.  The mini-greenhouse offers enough protection to keep the plants alive, and also keeps you from having to harden them off, as that happens naturally.  It made sense to me, after all, this is more how it happens in nature, yet still might give me a jump on the summer.

So, you begin by collecting as many milk jugs and other plastic bottles as you can.  This is a small group I am starting with:

Winter Sowing - The Milk Jugs

Winter Sowing – The Milk Jugs

The first thing you have to do is drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the jugs.  If not, too much water will stay in them and the seeds may rot before they grow.

Winter Sowing - Drilling Holes

Winter Sowing – Drilling Holes

Winter Sowing - Drainage Holes

Winter Sowing – Drainage Holes

Once that is done you need to cut the jugs in half.

Winter Sowing - Cutting the Jug

Winter Sowing – Cutting the Jug

Then fill them with potting soil.

Winter Sowing - Filling with Potting Soil

Winter Sowing – Filling with Potting Soil

Once that was done, I put the jugs back together and moved them outside.  I wish I had just finished them on the day I started them, but time did not allow that.

Winter Sowing - Filled Jugs

Winter Sowing – Filled Jugs

Finally it was time to sow seeds.  I just kind of scattered my seeds in the jugs, but I labeled them inside and outside, plus on the bottom, knowing that the sun will fade the labeling sticks.

Winter Sowing - Adding Seeds

Winter Sowing – Adding Seeds

I then taped the jugs shut with duct tape.

Winter Sowing - The Final Mini-Greenhouse

Winter Sowing – The Final Mini-Greenhouse

And finally I set them out by my raised garlic beds where they would get good morning sun.  Notice all the lids are off.  That is to allow the rain to get in the jugs.  It also keeps the temperature from getting too high on warm days.

Winter Sowing - Round 1

Winter Sowing – Round 1

If you want more details, Wintersown.org is the place to go, but this should be enough to give you the general idea. ¬†Now let’s watch and see if they grow!

Happenings Around the Homestead


I know I am not the only home gardener who struggles with this.  Each year I find something new I want, but I have more seeds now than I know what to do with.  I went through and organized all my seeds the other day, and was shocked at the varieties I have, and even multiple packets of the same seed.

While I attempt to organize this, I don’t do a very good job. ¬†I do separate the seeds generally by the type of plant they are, and then I put a rubber band around all those packets. ¬†That, in turn, is then thrown in a box which I keep in a refrigerator in the garage.

Sometimes I see other people with fantastic organization of their seeds, and I druel a bit, but I haven’t decided yet it is worth the effort to achieve what they have. ¬†As I was searching for a picture of what I am talking about, I became a little convicted, as it is not that hard to do. ¬†I just need to make the effort to get some photo albums. ¬†Yes, I am going to just give you a link to more information: How to Organize Seed Packets.

It’s Sunday morning as I am writing this post, and I still haven’t finished the winter sowing I have been mentioning here. ¬†I am going to try to get to this today, though we are expecting rain which might put a glitch in those plans. ¬†We’ll see.

Well, I am updating this very early on Monday morning. ¬†Winter sowing did not happen, though we had an interesting afternoon. ¬†Let’s see if this tells the story better than I can:

Busted Water Pipe

Busted Water Pipe

Evidently sometime over the winter we had a pipe to an outdoor faucet burst.  Yesterday while that faucet was being used, one of our bedrooms ended up with water halfway out into the room.  SIGH.

While I worked on this some, my two oldest boys did the bulk of the work, and I appreciate them for that. ¬†It is a basement level bedroom, so I don’t have to worry about floor damage, but the carpet may still have to be pulled up. ¬†We have a dehumidifier and fans running in there now, and the boys have used a wet-dry vac to clean all they can.

Where was I at? ¬†Winter sowing. ¬†Perhaps that will happen during the week. ¬†We’ll see.

Happenings Around the Homestead

I think I am probably like most every other gardener in the northern hemisphere right now, perusing through seed catalogs trying to decide what I am going to grow this year. ¬†There sure isn’t much going on around the homestead otherwise.

Wait!  That is not really true.  My middle son has been working hard all week getting all the leaves cleaned up from our yard.  He has dumped many of them in my garden to supplement the wood chips that are already there, but he and his brothers started a fire last night with some of them, as well as some old wood we had in the yard.  Besides making a great bonfire for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows, it should have left behind a considerable amount of ashes which will be tossed on the garden soon.

Did you know that wood ash is a great supplement for the garden?  It is often considered so because it is a good source of potash, but it also contains minerals such as iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and more.  In other words, wood ash helps add back the trace minerals into your soil that are so often depleted and ignored, which makes for healthier food.

The other big thing around here is the beginning of winter sowing. ¬†I had intended on completing the first round of winter sowing last week and getting a blog post up on it, but that didn’t happen. ¬†I am expecting to finish it today though, so if I find the time, there will be a post this week. ¬†I also have a few other posts I am working on that I cannot seem to find the time to finish. ¬†May this week allow time for that as well.

Happenings Around the Homestead

Like much of the US, this past week has been a nasty week, so there wasn’t much happening around the homestead this week. ¬†That certainly hasn’t stopped my mind from wandering on spring planting though. ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†Like most gardeners, I get so ready to spend time in the garden this time of year that I cannot hardly stand it. ¬†This year is that and more. ¬†I am so ready to get this larger garden planted and see what comes from it.

One of the things I had hoped to be¬†able to accomplish this week was some winter sowing. ¬†What is winter sowing? ¬†Ah, I am glad you asked! ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†Winter sowing is something I read about not long ago where you make miniature greenhouses out of 2 liter bottles, quart or gallon milk jugs, or any other container that is mostly transparent and made of plastic. ¬†You then set the containers out in your yard in a mostly sunny place and let the seeds do their thing. ¬†They freeze and thaw, and eventually start growing inside this somewhat protected container, which allows you to have the benefits of a greenhouse combined with the benefits of not having to harden off your plants. ¬†Oh, I can see I need a whole post on this! ¬†Let me¬†do just that later in the week. ¬†In the meantime, you can see a really good video on it here:

I also roasted some coffee this weekend, but essentially botched it.  I had my fire too hot and ended up with a French Roast instead of my normal light roast.  SIGH.  It is still a very smooth cup of coffee though.  Surprisingly smooth.

The other big project around the homestead that I did get to this week was changing out the litter in the chicken coop. ¬†You’ll be able to read more about that in The Chicken Chronicles this week. ¬†However, this is one of the big reasons we have chickens. ¬†They are fertile soil making machines! ¬†I like the way some describe it – my chickens are fertile soil making machines that happen to also lay eggs. ¬†ūüėÄ