January 5, 2011

The Seed Catalogs are in...

One of my favorite things about winter in the north country is when the seed catalogs arrive in January. When I look at them I can dream about warm sunshine, fresh vegetables, and beautiful flowers ...while I make plans for my garden.
They come at just the right time - the excitement from the holidays has passed and the cold is really getting bitter. They give me something to look forward to.

When we bought this house, there was one raised bed herb garden overgrown with mint, an old apple tree, a couple of crabapple trees, wild strawberries and plenty of wild raspberries. Perennials included daylilies, coneflowers, bleeding hearts, and hosta. We also had several lilacs and hydrangeas. The first year was exciting because I had no idea what would spring up from the gardens or where.

We put in five raised bed gardens and at the same time, I rescued two abandoned rabbits (Zoey and Chloe). If you’re looking for a good fertilizer for the garden, then you might want to consider using rabbit manure. Garden plants respond well to this type of fertilizer, and it doesn't burn so you don't need to compost it.

The next year we got our three hens (Olga, Oogna, and Orla) and a large compost tumbler.
Chicken manure fertilizer is very high in nitrogen and also contains good amounts of potassium and phosphorus. The high nitrogen and nutrients are the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use, but the high nitrogen in the chicken manure will burn plants if the manure has not been composted.

These past few years, I have ordered potatoes, beans, carrots, and peas from the Seed Savers Exchange - an organization of gardeners dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. I have had great results. Last year I tried growing my potatoes in containers for an easier method for harvesting and I was really pleased with the the way that worked out. In addition, I grow pumpkins, sunflowers, beets, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, kitchen herbs, and a variety of squashes. I try but have trouble with cabbage. I think our compost is especially favored by slugs.

I have plenty of rhubarb growing and have made a really tasty rhubarb jam these past two years. I also put in concord grapes along our fence last year. Just sitting here thinking about my gardens makes me smile!

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