We’ve worked hard over the years to grow more of our own food, and in spring, summer, and fall we savor every garden offering there is to enjoy. In the wintertime we’ll harvest some kale and a few other things here and there, but there’s not usually very much to harvest that time of year. We’ve been working to change that, though, and this winter we have harvested more food from the homestead than in any previous winter. That is such a good feeling! We are so grateful for our humble winter harvests, we appreciate every bit of them.
This picture was taken from one of our harvests in February (on Valentine’s Day actually, in our family special occasions of any kind always center around food.) Remember the building project, and the new animals I mentioned in a recent post? I left you with a few teasers in that post and thought I’d share about a few of them now. The building project I was talking about is the greenhouse that Jeff started building in the fall. I will share more about it in future posts, including pictures and how we designed it, but for now I will just say that it has been an absolute game changer for us to be able to grow more of our own food throughout the winter months. Every single day I’m grateful for all the time and energy Jeff has put into building that thing.
Oh, and the new additions? Last June we ordered a bunch of quail eggs and hatched them out in our incubator. We hatched out more in October, and I must say that we are loving raising quail, they are just the sweetest little birds. It was one of those things that felt like something falling into place that was meant to be. I will share more about them in future posts too. The quail eggs have been a welcome addition to our diet, they are so delicious. (And just look at them! Aren’t they so cute? And so pretty?)
In the harvest pictured above there were quail eggs, carrots (to clarify: the lighter colored ones were a variety with a different color, not just some really pale looking carrots), endive, a little lettuce, arugula, parsley, mache, and microgreens. All those greens were harvested in the greenhouse. Jeff grew mache for the first time this winter after researching what greens are good for winter gardening. We like it and have been adding it to salads. (If you’re curious to grow it you can purchase the seeds here or here.) I’m an arugula fanatic so Jeff always grows lots of it for me (he likes it too), and he is currently obsessed with growing microgreens which is wonderful because we all really love eating them!
Last week we did some harvesting outside while we had a stretch of beautiful, sunny weather. (Our Pacific Northwest winters are very rainy, the feeling of sun on our faces again is so delightful!) We harvested tons of kale that overwintered in the garden. The kale went into soups and stir fries. We also harvested rosemary and parsley, drying them and storing them in jars. I was surprised to see our parsley thriving like it was in the winter, but since we have pretty mild winters where we are (about twenty minutes from the coast), that can happen sometimes.
When you garden or buy fresh food at farmer’s markets, you get so spoiled with produce that is colorful, and flavorful, and delicious. Well, we’ve gotten pretty spoiled… and it’s hard to go to the grocery store in the winter when you are craving something fresh and see the pale, flavorless fruits and vegetables that were harvested before ripe and trucked in from far away. I’m exaggerating a bit, of course. We can find some good produce in the winter, and don’t think for a moment I’m not grateful to have it available, but there are quite a few things that I just don’t enjoy eating when they are out of season. That is why we are so grateful to be having more fresh, homegrown food in the winter.
If you are wanting to grow more food in the winter months, I would highly recommend growing microgreens. You can grow a lot of food in a small amount of space, the sprouts are delicious, and they are also packed with nutrition. We’ve been enjoying arugula, mustard, broccoli, cilantro, and sunflower microgreens. We’ll be sharing more about our setup down the road, but in the meantime- there are a lot of informational videos available on youtube if you’d like to learn more. Have any of you been doing any winter gardening? What are you harvesting? I’d love to hear about it.
[Edited to add: I forgot to mention, it was also our best winter for our lemon harvest. Usually our little lemon tree gives us a handful of larger lemons, but this year it was completely covered in small lemons, there were just tons of them. We were so delighted about that, and savored each one. No matter how many years we’ve grown them, it never ceases to amaze me that we can actually grow our own lemons here!]