February is a strange month for weather here in Texas. Most years it is cold and dreary (at least in my memory) with the occasional warm day fluke. This year has been so very mild that I've got some serious gardening fever, but I know better. So, what do you do in the February garden?
In the greenhouse you can start: Basil, Swiss Chard, Cucumbers, Melons, and Squash. Of course you need to tend to the little seedlings you've already sprouted. Oddly enough I've been more concerned with avoiding cooking the little babies than keeping them warm (which is what you would expect from February).
Outside, you better have your potato and onion beds prepped and ready, because they go in the ground on Valentine's Day....that is unless it is pouring rain or we are getting some deep freeze that day. With that said, I don't know that I've ever missed my Valentine's Day planting. That is just when you do it.
The other thing you can do in February (especially when you are having fabulous weather) is to build new beds which brings me to the idea of the "Second Life." Now our farm is pretty productive and we tend to have plenty of milk, cheese, and yogurt. We also have plenty of veggies and even some fruits, but the thing we produce the most of...."waste" and compost.
Let's just start with that lovely milk I just mentioned....to get milk we feed bagged feed (from the lovely folks at Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill). The feed comes in 50 lb. bags that are made entirely of paper (Yay, Coyote Creek!). We go through around 80 bags of feed a year...that's 80 empty bags. This time of year we hoard some to use as clean pads for obey-gooey just-borned kids, but that still leaves a lot of bags. We don't like waste around here so we've found a second life for those bags.
|Coyote Creek Feed Bags heading to the garden.|
We also find ourselves with lots of little piles of deadfall in the winter. Some of that makes its way into the house for kindling, some gets left in a pile awaiting the yearly renting of the chipper which turns it into mulch, but some of it goes into the bottoms of the raised beds for drainage and for slow composting. (Look up Hugelkultur).
|Pecan Tree Deadfall|
|Raised bed lined with cardboard boxes.|
|Hugelkultur style: feed sacks on bottom, sticks next.|
|Sacks, Sticks, Hay and Poop|
|Jen's Lazy Method|
A couple of days ago I cleaned the milkers' barn and moved about 25 loads of beautiful future compost, thus giving their "waste" a Second Life. It helps me to define it as a Second Life. It reminds me that we and the gardens and the animals are connected in inextricable ways. I care for the goats, whose milk nourishes me, whose "waste" nourishes our gardens and feeds us and them. This farm is one big lovely circle and we try to keep all the elements in the loop.