January on the Homestead

Reader Contribution by Anna Hess And Mark Hamilton
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Here in zone 6 of southwest Virginia, it’s turning into a long, cold winter.  We’ve already seen a low of -3 Fahrenheit, and expect more cold weather this week.  Time for some eye candy from last summer!

Of course, there’s plenty to do even when the ground is frozen.  In fact, in our remote location, the ground being frozen opens up a whole ‘nother range of tasks we can embark on — driving supplies down a quarter-mile driveway that’s usually close to impassable.  We took advantage of the hard freeze this week to stock up on extra firewood, which will be much needed if the weather continues to be abnormally cold.

Inside, I always spend a few days at this time of year planning out our garden rotation, running a germination test on old seeds, then ordering new ones.  You can save quite a bit on seeds not only by saving your own, but by realizing that most store-bought seeds will last longer than one year.

Our first planting is lettuce under quick hoops at the beginning of February, and we planned ahead this week by topdressing and covering the lettuce bed to preheat.  My parents used to burn off the lettuce bed first, which I suspect would also preheat the soil, even though I’m too lazy to give it a try myself.

February is when outdoor garden tasks really pick up, so in preparation for that surge, I treat myself to extra time in front of the fire, writing.  If you missed it, my newest book is a novel about a young woman returning to the intentional community where she was born.  I priced the ebook to move at 99 cents, so I hope you’ll consider giving it a read.

Stay warm and dry and dream of spring!