Thursday, January 22, 2015

Around the Garden



I think it might be time for a little update on our fall/winter gardening adventure. The last time I updated you was way back in November, and goodness how I wish we still had all that snow. Things were rolling right along with the garden, we were enjoying daily trips out there to pick fresh greens, beets, carrots and herbs for our meals, and all seemed to be going very well. In the second week of December we had a terrible wind storm, 100km/hour wind gusts throughout the night. Both Justin and I kept checking on the tunnels, worried the plastic would fly right off, and it almost did. Justin headed out in the dark to secure everything a little better, and when we woke in the morning, all was good. There were a few busy days after that storm, and we didn't head out to harvest anything for three days. When I went out on the fourth day to pick some carrots for dinner, my kale was gone! All that was left were the stems, completely chewed clean. Upon closer inspection we made the assumption that voles had enjoyed a little feast. There were little tunnels in the soil, and then in our search to find the little critters, we actually scared one out of its hiding spot and saw him run away. From that point on it became a little race to see who could eat the food faster, us or the voles. I would like to say we won, but sadly the voles did. We did manage to reach the official first day of winter still eating from the garden, and that in itself is a huge accomplishment.

Now, as the cold days of January surround us, we sit back and continue to enjoy the food put by from our summer garden, and we dream of what is to come with the next growing season. The tunnels and the cold frame will allow us to start sowing seeds in the ground much earlier than we have in the past, which will mean some mid spring harvests. There is much time spent right now with seed catalogs, making final decisions on what we will grow this year, the berry order is almost ready to go in, and there is excitement about the addition of more chickens and a few ducks to our little homestead this spring.

As we move forward, we will have to figure out the best way to deal with the voles, but for now, we will let the gardens rest, and enjoy the last little bit of winter.

52 comments:

  1. how marvellous to continue harvesting throughout the winter. can't believe those winds didn't knock everything down, well done to the one who got those babies down!

    i recently recommended the following to a friend of mine. i wonder if you might be interested in the read: http://permacultureideas.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/one-straw-revolution-ebook-free-to.html?m=1

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/94171.Masanobu_Fukuoka?from_search=true

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    1. Thanks Autumn :) It was lovely to harvest as long as we did, and now the goal as been set for next winter, to get past Winter Solstice and still be eating from the garden.

      Thanks for the recommendations, I will definitely take a look.

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  2. I live my homesteading life vicariously through you! :) xx

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    1. Haha, feel free to do so my friend. xo

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  3. Wow these are amazing! I guess it's that time of year, dreaming of warmth and spring, because we have been planning our garden already too! Last year was an epic fail so we are planning new methods this year, here's to hoping for a delicious bounty!

    www.hollandsreverie.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you! This is our first winter with the tunnels, loved having them. It is the time of year for dreaming and planning, always a favourite time of year for me. Enjoy your planning and here's to a wonderful summer garden season for you. xo

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  4. I had hoped to play in the dirt this weekend and plant the spinach and peas, but now rain will be here tomorrow making the ground once again too wet for a tractor. Sigh. Yesterday we reached a high temperature of 75 degrees...in January!

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    1. Well Tracey, I know that temperature doesn't make you happy, but it certainly makes this Canadian girl quite happy. One month and counting til the little man and I head down there...keep those temperatures nice and high for us.

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  5. Cheeky little voles! Hopefully they've moved on to pastures new over the winter 😀

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    1. Cheeky indeed! Ha, they haven't moved on, we have caught them eating the bird seed on the ground the last few days :)

      They are always here, we just never had a problem before. I am pretty sure it was the warmth and dryness of the tunnels that enticed them. Once they found them, it was the place to be :) We are pretty sure we will have to trap them in order to keep up the winter garden next year, just as we do the mice in the house.

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  6. I am amazed at all the veggies you had to eat in November. And they were lush! Too bad about the voles. When we had a backyard garden two years ago, rabbits were eating our veggies as they were sprouting. It was very frustrating. Looking forward to your garden adventures this spring.

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    1. Pretty cool, eh? We so enjoyed it, and were hoping to still be harvesting now, but the voles had other ideas :)

      Thanks, can't wait to start sharing all the garden goodness again.

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  7. Let us know what you find out about dealing with voles! :-)

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    1. Ha, I will. At this point the best suggestion we have had is trapping them. We will keep researching though, as next winter we really don't want them to eat the veggies again :)

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  8. Hmmm... Interesting question : Can you tell if the tunnels came from the top or the bottom? Are they getting in from under the beds? Maybe a layer of chicken wire a few inches under the dirt would stop them from coming up. But from the top, I wish I knew! We haven't been able to eat 9 out of 10 strawberries in our garden for 3 years now.

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    1. They came in along the sides, under the plastic and row covers. It is easy for them to get in, I just never thought about them being a problem. As with most gardening issues, you have to experience them first and then figure out how to solve them. So far, trapping them seems the route to go, but we will do some more reading.

      I know some people have troubles with mice in the dug-in cold frames, but we had harvested that first in the fall so we didn't have anything in there to entice the mice. And from what I have read the chicken wire can work if they are a problem in the cold frame, but it is different with the tunnels since they are above ground and have so many ways to sneak in.

      I will figure it out, next winter they won't stand a chance :)

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  9. Oh Kim I'm sorry that you had voles... Never seen one here in the garden. Next year you'll do something different hopefully it will work :)

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  10. Hi Kim! I got my first seed catalogue this past week. I have big plans this year, but I'm feeling a little intimidated by my own plans. That's probably not a good sign. Congratulations on stretching your fresh food until the first day of winter. That is really impressive! I'm sorry to hear about the voles. This past year my dog at all my greens, so part of my garden plans include some sort of fencing.

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    1. Yay for seed catalogs, I have a stack I am slowly making my way through. Don't be intimidated, just go for it. Plant what you know you will eat, and then enjoy the process. Fencing yes, for the first time last summer we put fencing around one of our garden areas, for some reason the dog was digging in the beds. It was a temporary fix, and this summer I hope to pretty it up a bit :)

      Good luck with your gardens. Are you planning to share your progress on your blog...would love to have a peek as you move through the season :)

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  11. We have problems with mice and voles in our garden. If we don't trap them we wouldn't get anything to eat. The only other solution I have found is to get a cat which we didn't wnat to do as then we wouldn't have any birds, which we love. They will eat your seedlings too so you need to start putting those traps out early...........

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    1. Well I am glad to know trapping them works. We have had cats, they don't last long around here...coyotes, hawks and owls :)

      We have had voles for years, had them in the house one season, but this is the first time they have touched the garden. I am thinking it is because it was was winter, and there is a lack of food around for them. It was warm in the tunnels and very easy access.

      I figured my seedlings will be fair game come spring, we will just have to keep an eye out, trap them as best we can, and keep our fingers crossed.

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  12. the voles have to survive as well :) I say plant a decoy crop and then enjoy your own! If that is possible. Who knew tiny little critters could wipe out a crop!!

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    1. They do, but not if they are eating my food :) I don't think that would work. They started in one tunnel and then moved on to the next one. They will just keep right on eating. They can do some pretty major damage for little critters.

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  13. ...keeping a close eye on these post Kim. Already planning things out with hubby for the new garden.
    excited! We have gophers....the dogs kill them and the hear the horses hoofs which helps....I guess I have to plant a little extra :)

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    1. Always exciting when you start planning. Gophers, yikes, good thing you have the dogs :)

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  14. pesky hungry voles !!! got to hand it to them for finding the best garden around.... Have a wonderful weekend Kim !!!

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    1. Haha, thanks! But they are too pesky for me, I would like to find a different garden to raid next winter :)

      Thanks Erica, you too!

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  15. So cool to see in person what I imagined from your letters! Amazing success getting as far as you did - wishing you even better for next year...and less for the voles 😊

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    1. Well hello there my very dear friend, so nice to see you here. Thank you.

      I received your lovely package yesterday...a little early. It was just wonderful, and full of so many beautiful gifts. Thank you. I am working on a few things for you still, hoping to have it in the mail in the next week, with a letter.

      Much love to you. xo

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  16. Oh no! Is this a year round thing? They must be hard to stop. Hope you guys have a lovely weekend!

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    1. No, first time we have had a problem with them. They are always here, but have never been a problem. We are assuming the tunnels provided warmth, protection and food, so they moved right in :)

      Thanks Carlin, wishing the same for you and you beautiful family.

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  17. Oh...garden. I too, have to figure out a way to work with the land, animals, and climate. Adventures in life, right?

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    1. Adventures for sure, life would be boring without them :)

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  18. Those darn animals. But what a buffet for them. Fresh greens and warm place to eat them! :)

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  19. oh my goodness! i am so sorry about your garden. the thoughts of early spring planting are so very exciting though. as well as the thought of baby chicks and ducks!!! i was looking through some old posts and felt very sentimental for baby chicks and ducklings... so so sweet.

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    1. Thanks Jenny. It was a tough pill to swallow, but it was a great learning experience. I can't wait to have baby chicks here again, our hens are two and three years old, so it has been awhile. And we have never had ducklings...little man is excited about that.

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  20. Darn those critters! But how exciting that spring gets to come early for you this year. I'd love to have a little hoop house to grow early salad greens.

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    1. You can say that again :) That is exactly what I am looking forward to Meryl, those early salad greens.

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  21. That is quite an accomplishment, in my books, that you were still eating out of the garden in the winter (official winter)! Hoping, for the voles sakes, that you have a soft spot for voles?

    I'm going to say it is the extreme cold that gets us thinking about the garden (and that warm sun) again. Yesterday, we started talking about what we are going to grow in the garden next year. First time since, maybe early December that we have even mentioned the garden.
    I really want to try some greenhouse tunnels like you did this year. Although we did pretty good, first time we harvested in December - it was some Brussels Sprouts. Here is a link to the pic, hope the link works -
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-up82fjBFCyM/VMa49wQtsmI/AAAAAAAABAI/6WYH6gigsnA/w466-h699-no/IMG_7821.JPG

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    1. Thanks! Unfortunately, no I don't have a soft spot for voles, or mice for that matter :)

      The planning stage it so nice, so many dreams of the season to come, flipping through catalogs and picking seeds, such a wonderful time of year. Enjoy!

      Those Brussels sprouts look amazing, nicely done!

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    1. I agree. It will be better next year :)

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  23. Oh wow! I'm sorry the voles got your garden, but I'm impressed that your garden lasted so long. I had been wondering if things were still growing. Thanks for the update. I'm looking into this for next winter for us.

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    1. Awe, thanks my friend. It was a tough pill to swallow at first, but now a lesson from our first season of winter gardening. Can't wait to see you give it a go next year.

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  24. I really want to do this! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  25. So sorry to read about the voles, just when you think you have it cracked, nature throws another issue at you to keep you on your toes. But harvesting as long as you did sounds very impressive, and early Spring is not too long now.

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    1. Yes, she does keep me on my toes. Happy to know what it is though, that makes solving the problem so much easier :)

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