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Organic Garden - Winter             

Minnesota is what it is. My garden is under a foot of snow. The driveway is covered with ice. It is ten degrees on the back porch. The snow is coming down in big fluffy flakes. I live in Minnesota and winter, for me, is a challenge. I survive because I want to. My winter garden helps with the process. I have written about some of the winter happenings pertaining to my garden. It may give you some ideas for your winter s


January-for all of you that have asked-at Milk and Honey Farm is a season of new beginnings-a time to plan and prepare. The holidays are over and all the company has gone home. The sheep are all bred and will have their lambs in April. It is a perfect time to get ready for the next GARDEN! There is a great deal of personal satisfaction in this when it is minus 20 degrees and we have six foot snow drifts in the back yard!

The first step is to inventory the heirloom seeds that were carefully dried and put away last fall. I enjoy reading all the seed catalogs that arrive in January and orders new seed. Each year the garden gets bigger-and new beds are planned. Since we grow herds and flowers and well as vegetables, research is important and very necessary.

The seeds are ordered from Baker Creek Seeds. New items that are to be planted this year are melons from Alaska, New Zealand Spinach, Goldbar summer squash and Romano pole beans from Italy.

While waiting for the seeds to arrive, we clean up our "nursery", otherwise known as the basement. Wall to wall florescent light bulbs are replaced and hung-the extension cords and timers are located and set in place, and the flats are filled with potting soil. By the middle of February, there will be over l00 flats of vegetables , herbs and flowers all getting a head start in our basement. Here they will grow until the big move out to the Hoop House green house in April.

Instead of an after the holidays seasonal "let down", January has become the best time to anticipate next summers garden. The basement is a cheerful place filled with little green things and bright lights. The smell of earth is strong and pleasant on a cold winter's day. The daily routine of misting the seedlings and adjusting the lights breaks up winter's boredom.

To all our friends and family who have been wondering as to how we survive January in Minnesota, this is how we do it. It is very, very, good!

Survival wherever you are located. Sometimes, you have to keep on keeping on.


  1. I save a LOT of money.
  2. By picking out the seed to grow, I can get the best there is. We use only heir loon seeds that have not been treated with anything!
  3. Home grown plants are free of shipping stress that nursery plants go through in transport.
  4. Seed catalogs carry hundreds of varieties of seed. This lets me experiment with all kinds of different and unusual plants and I find this interesting. Nurseries only carry a few varieties of each plant.
  5. I plant seeds for my own use and also raise extra plants to sell. This pays for the cost of my garden supplies.
  6. It provides me with entertainment and education on cold sub zero winter days in Minnesota.
  7. It is FUN ! ! ! ! ! 


Considering that six-foot snowdrifts bank the greenhouse and I need a ski pole to safely maneuver the distance from the back door to the greenhouse, the effort is worthwhile in January! Inside, there are hanging bunches of herbs, buckets filled with sunflower seeds, and two cats, who have set up residence for the winter. It is also almost 40degrees because the sun has been beating on the plastic roof and warming things up all morning.

The reason for the trip is to take some of the sunflower seed out to the New Zealand rabbits. The sunflower heads were cut off with a machete knife last fall and safely stored in the green house for the winter. The seeds are from Black Russian Giant Sunflowers. The sunflower seeds provide the rabbits with the needed oil and protein to make thick beautiful fur and to get them ready for breeding in February.

I will also fill the bird feeder while I am at it. The blue jays really love sunflower seeds.

The sheep have followed me and will be rewarded with several pails of dried beans-still on the vines the beans have been stored in the green house too-as winter treats for the sheep and the chickens.

Falaphl, the cat, enjoys a scratch from Sarah.January is too early for green house activity. However, a quick trip out to get some treats for the animals is a very pleasant way to break up a morning spent inside. My two favorite cats, "Spike" and "Falaphl" have been spending the winter in there. I put old cushions in several plant trays for them last fall. They look pretty cute, all curled up and snoozing. They do get up for daily trips to the barn for feeding and scratching.

The green house serves as a drying house for my hanging herbs over the winter. I hang then in big bunches from the ceiling and bring then into the kitchen when I want to make something. Last week, it was peppermint tea time. I cut down several bunches of peppermint-hauled them into the kitchen-ground them up in my blender-and enjoyed a hot cup of peppermint tea with a spoonful of honey. The rest is stored in quart jars in the pantry. I especially like the Chocolate mint.





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