Are you looking out at a snow covered garden? At grey blustery days? Or maybe like me, your “garden winter” is in the dog days of summer when you can fry an egg on the sidewalk (literally!). Whenever your time to stay inside the climate controlled house is, there are still a lot of things you can do to further your garden/homesteading life.
Now is a great time to get the ‘how to’ books and kits and learn a new skill.
Last year I got a Deluxe Cheese-Making Kit and started learning about making cheese. It’s really very simple to make many cheeses right in your kitchen with very simple tools and ingredients. And you don’t need a cow or goat. You can use milk from your grocery store for many types of cheese.
Or maybe like me you are discovering how good for you, probiotics are. You can get a kombucha kit. This is a really fun and SO much easier than I would have ever imagined to make. You can learn how to flavor it as kombucha makes a great soda (or pop) replacement that is actually good for you. It really helps your digestion and helps you absorb more of the nutrients in your food. If you make your own the cost savings are phenomenal!
Also, check out my post on lacto fermented food. This is something you can make from what you probably already have in your kitchen. Learn about kefir too or maybe homemade yogurt is more your style. This is the year to get even healthier.
Who says you can’t have fresh vegetables on your winter table? Have you ever eaten sprouts or microgreens. It’s so easy to do right in your own cozy kitchen,and so good for you too. Oh, did I mention they are just plain YUMMY?
Or maybe growing mushrooms sounds interesting to you. There are counter top mushroom kits to get you started. You can check out how I grew shiitake and oyster mushrooms, but I started with a kit. Not much beats the nutritional value and fantastic taste of fresh picked mushrooms.
Maybe you want to learn to make bread from scratch. When you make it yourself, you control what goes into it and as a bonus, boy does your house smell good when it’s baking. I’m not sure there is any food that tastes better than bread fresh from the oven. If all that kneading is not your thing you can use a bread machine or use a no knead recipe like my English muffin bread.
How about learning about herbal remedies. This could be the year for that culinary/medicinal herb garden. Or maybe you are interested in essential oils. Now is the time to dig into the books and put that new herb garden down on paper. But where do you start? Remember, start with one herb learn all about it and then move on to the next. (Just like how you eat an elephant…one bite at a time:))
Or maybe you want to learn more about your garden or farm. Check out these great books and learn new skills. The Mini Farming Bible , Mini Farming: 10 Best Ways Of Making Your Small Farm Profitable , and there is always this little gem, Dirty Hands In Your Garden: Turn Your Dirt Into Million Dollar Garden Soil!
When you are busy planting and harvesting there is no time to build so this is the best time to go into the garage or workshop and make something happen.
Or maybe your fancy is towards something a little bit fluffier. Maybe your can put together some bunny cages or a chicken or duck coop so you are ready for the spring babies.Take a look at these 5 chicken coops including the chicken tractor. Justin Rhodes is a ‘chicken ninja’. He’s such great fun to watch. Justin and the beautiful one and the 4 ‘chilins’ have become my new addiction.
Are you composting yet? If not, WHY NOT? This is one of the most important things to do for the health of your garden. Now is the time to buy or make a composting bin. You might also be thinking about raising worms for their awesome fertilizer. You can make these handy dandy worm towers too.
Maybe you are into lasagna gardening. You can be layering on all kinds of organic things getting a new area ready for the spring. Mulch is one of the best things you can do for your garden. If you have spent or spoiled hay/straw or old bedding now is a great time to get it composting.
Is your garden shed a mess like mine is? At the end of the year things got piled in with the intent that when all the produce was preserved you would clean it out? Well now is the time to tackle that job.
Maybe you need to get some extra shelves and hooks to organize your tools. Or maybe you just need to clean and oil them and put them up on the shelves and hooks you already have. Remember sharp tools work better and properly taken care of they will last much longer. Good quality tools can last a lifetime.
Do you need a new fence? Now is a great time to get all the pieces and cut them to size. What a time saver it will be to have it all ready to put in.
Now is a great time to start that garden journal. A garden journal is a very important part of your garden. To keep track of what you ordered (and from whom) last year and where you planted it. You will also use it to know what grew well so you can repeat what worked and not duplicate what did not.
Now that you know what you want to plant, now is the time to order your seeds. Ok, I must confess this is one my favorite parts of gardening. I love looking at all the possibilities and trying to figure out where I can put just one more type of plant. Every year I try to grow at least one thing that I have never grown before.
Check your last frost dates and make a plan to start your first seeds. You may need some grow lights and/or a warming mat. Get them now so your poor plants aren’t getting long and sickly reaching for the sun.
While we are talking about planning, you might want to check your first aid kit and see if anything needs to be refilled. Also check to make sure your tetanus shot is up to date. That’s important when you are working around a garden/ homestead.
You will be so busy come spring that sometimes the one on one time with those you love gets put off. So now is a great time to make a big pot of soup, dust off the board games and sit around as a family and laugh and talk. Or maybe you will have an evening reading time where one person will read aloud while others do something with their hands like crochet, put together a puzzle or make a paracord belt. You can even take turns reading and that will help build reading skills. Having taken the time to bond now will pay off big time when spring comes and you need help in the garden.
Of course the animals still need to be fed and cared for and there are a few plants that need our care too. Grapes and several other plants need to be pruned in the winter in order to have the best production the next year.
Have you been thinking about starting a blog? Maybe you want to make a little extra money for your homestead. Maybe you want to share what you have learned. Maybe you just want a creative outlet that’s not all physical like most of homesteading is. A blog is just the thing. I walk you through the steps to set up your own blog and I do it with simple thorough explanations so any beginner can understand.
Wow! with a list like this, maybe winter won’t be long enough…..Oh yes it will! But think how productive we can be if we plan ahead. Remember, spring is coming and we will have dirty hands in our gardens again very soon!
This year, may your garden/homestead be Just Ducky!
Do you have any more great ideas to add to this list? Let us know. We’d love to see what your ideas are or what you made over the winter.
Don’t forget to sign up for the gardening posse.