It is that time of year to start planning the coming season’s garden and get our seeds going indoors. I have to admit that I haven’t started a thing yet and I am already feeling really behind. Hopefully this weekend will allow me a sliver of time to get my seed starting organized.

In the mean time, there are still things to do outside in the winter garden. The garden in the house I am renting is sleeping for winter. The soil was so compacted and sapped of nutrients that I chose to heavily mulch it rather than plant winter crops. (If I were really on the ball, I would have planted some cover crops in the fall) But the Urban Farm I volunteer at still shows signs of life and reminders of what we can grow here in the NW on these gray days.

Early February means it is time to “feed” the garlic with chicken manure at the farm. On my homestead, I didn’t really fertilize a whole lot because I would dig in a mixture of chicken manure and used straw before planting. It will be interesting to see what a difference fertilizing at this time makes. My garlic was typically an after thought crop – shove some in here and be surprised in the fall when it has multiplied despite the neglect.

The leeks that were planted in the Fall are now big enough to harvest. We have been eating a lot of soup, since I am not savvy enough to do anything else with leeks. Their tall stalks and lush leaves are a welcomed sign of life in the vegetable beds.

Kale seems to be holding on for dear life. It appears to have made it through the winter, although it looks a bit pathetic. But new, dark green leaves are uncurling with the promise of iron and other nutrients that will keep us healthy and energized.

And finally, the brussel sprouts look good enough to cut off and enjoy (well, if you peel a couple outside leaves from them). My favorite method of preparing them involves a quick steaming until barely fork tender, then tossing in a fry pan with butter and pecans. Simple, but delicious.

Now get back to starting those seeds and planning the garden!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson