Saturday, 9 November 2013

Winter Preparations


As I type, there's snow on the ground and more is falling.  No matter, we were ready!  October was mild which gave us plenty of time to get ready for "old man winter".  My intentions of growing rye as a cover crop in the main garden didn't go quite as planned as the chickens got in and ate most of it, LOL!   I admitted defeat and let them all in to finish it off - lucky girls :)  Plan B is heavy mulching but I wanted a different material from what I used last year (straw), so I hauled over a hundred bags of leaves from the city to use as mulch on the garden this year.  I didn't make a special trip, I just grabbed the bagged leaves from the curbs in town when I was already there taking my daughter to school.  It astounds me how people can't wait to get their leaves picked up by the city to get them off their property.  They are such a great nutrient source for mulching or for compost fodder!




The chickens happily obliged in spreading all the leaves out for me, picking through to eat seeds and bugs...    Those spoiled hens also indulged in frost damaged pumpkins, squash AND some apple drops from our son's yard.  Soon, I'll start sprouting wheat for them to add greens to their diet during the lean winter months.  The Wormery will (fingers crossed) be able to supply the hens with worms through the winter as well.




 A peek in the greenhouse shows that the fall rye is flourishing in there!   I seeded one side to rye and planted the other side out to (light) frost hardy greens.  I've set the sawhorses in place now to avoid trudging through the deep snow in Spring to get them set up for my seasonal seedling tables.  I did that last year which was one too many times :)




The greens are coming along in the cold frames IN the greenhouse.  The nighttime temps have been well below -10C already, so the extra protection of the cold frame covers will HOPEFULLY buy me enough time to harvest these as micro greens before we have temperatures too low for anything to live in there.  The kale on the far left will likely never make it to harvest (even as micro greens), but you just never know until you try, now do you?



These baby pac choi (below) are directly in the greenhouse soil with no cold frame so that I can compare how they fare with the ones that are protected.


Thankfully, these lettuces (below) are nearly ready to grace the salad bowl - they were started several weeks earlier than the tiny spinach seedlings next to them.  



 With winter on the way, it was time to give the chicken coop a good clean out in preparation for a new start with the deep bedding method.  We LOVED the deep bedding method lat year - it kept our hens warm all winter without any need for supplementary heat!  A fresh addition of carbon at regular intervals (wood shavings, shredded paper or cardboard, etc) kept the smell down and balanced the nitrogen nicely to make a dynamite compost kick start!



All inspired to lay an egg in a fresh nesting box!  Under those shavings are sage and oregano plus a sprinkling of tea tree oil to keep any mites at bay.



The compost bays got some loving pre-winter attention (namely turning and watering).   The left bay is a pile built a few weeks ago from spent greens, leaves and garden waste.  The middle pile is the new pile created from the coop cleanings,  leaves and greens and the right bay is all set to add fresh material to it while the other piles cook.  





I brought some of our garden herbs inside for the winter...  cilantro, sage, mint, rosemary to name a few.  So lovely to have fresh herbs for cooking - what a difference that makes to winter meals.





Last but NOT least, our darling Grand-daughter, Penny celebrated her VERY first birthday!!!!  

She LOVED the card and listened VERY intently when her Daddy read it to her :)



Then she slowly relished in opening her gifts...  one little paper rip at at time,


she savoured every single tear!


Such a darling - we love her so much!  Penny, you have brought much love and light into our lives and we are so thankful for you, precious girl  XO






16 comments:

  1. Your granddaughter is just gorgeous! Like you I have become a grandmother for the first time in this past year -to a little boy who is now just over 6 months old - and I'm loving every minute of it. It's just the best thing that has happened to me for a long time. Do you live near your little one? (Sorry if you have already written about this, but I'm new to your blog.) Very much enjoying your gardening tips too.

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    1. Welcome, Anne! Congratulations on your wee Grandson :) It IS a wonderful time in life, isn't it?

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  2. Penny is so sweet! Gotta love that joyful grin as she opens her gifts. Just adorable. Looks like your winter prep is going well! I'll keep my fingers crossed your greens make it to Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Meg! XO Penny's grin was specifically for the paper ripping, LOL.

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  3. Penny is just gorgeous. I miss my two little granddaughters who live at the other end of the state. It is fascinating to watch your winter preparations while we are sweating in the heat here in Australia. Sherri, your chooks look very happy!

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  4. Nanna Chel - That's tough to live so far from your Granddaughters :( It makes me VERY glad that I can see my wee girl frequently (((((((Nanna Chel)))))

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  5. Yay! So happy to read your post today :) Your Penny, she is just charming!! Hopefully you can enjoy a restful winter now, with all these incredible preparations completed. I've re-mulched my garlic beds with leaves twice already, but we have such strong winds that it keeps bowing away - so today I reclaimed some straw from the chickens area and (hopefully) mulched for the last time ;-)
    -Jaime

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    1. Yes, the wind can obliterate mulch in no time! Our garden is fenced with 2"x4" inch wire fencing, so it keeps the leaves IN for the most part. Also, it's in a fairly sheltered spot, so not quite as much wind to contend with.

      Once you get some snow, that mulch will stay put! :)

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  6. Happy birthday Penny! I so enjoy your blog--and will be showing Husband the picture of your compost system [he'll be needing to build one in the spring ;)] Sounds like you are ready for winter!

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    1. Thank you so much :) "We" built our compost system entirely from pallets so no cost at all. You can easily find them online in your area. Good luck!

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  7. I can hardly wait for my greenhouse to be finished! Gotta love the grand babies. They are so adorable and precious.

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    1. You will love having a greenhouse! Season extension is an amazing thing in a cold climate :) I have no desire to garden all winter, but certainly pushing the boundaries (early Spring and late Fall), means much more reliable food production.

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  8. Your Penny is beautiful. Time flies it is hard to believe a year has gone by.

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    1. Thank you, Madge :) Her first year has been a blur!

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  9. What a sweetie little Penny is :-) She looks very similar to my girl when she was that age. I am so in awe of your garden and all the work you've done preparing for winter. Very inspired. I've popped over from Rhonda Jean's - I too loved the idea of our simple life being a long flowing ribbon :-) Hope you have a lovely week.

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