January presents itself as the typical launching pad for enlightenment, new goals, and transformation. January, at least here on our little Virginia mountain top, has not earned herself a reputation for being the perfect time to grow food. Good thing we aren't traditionalists.
Last year alone, we ate salad or greens four times a week, solely sourced from our front yard, which at that time only contained a 3x8 winter garden patch, pictured below.
As you can see, January is not only a feasible time to grow food, its a FANTASTIC time to grow food. Greens are sweeter, roots are crisper, and there is just something magic about harvesting food when you can see your breath.
For the past 3 years, we've been growing food 365 days a year. Yes, both inside AND outside. Above, you can see the Yellow Heart Winter Choy, planted in August and thriving after a week of overnight single digits in December. All of the outdoor images henceforth in this post are presently thriving in those very same conditions.
So what does it take to spend every single day of an entire year growing food? Honestly, not too much more than a little planning and small investments of time and equipment. This post is the first of a year long series chronicling exactly how we do it.
For our inside food this week, we are growing pea shoots. Growing indoors opens the door to 365 growing for those who don't have access to outdoor growing, such as inner city dwellers and renters with strict landlords.
This is our first microgreen adventure. We bartered lard for grow lights and seed trays, and purchased seeds and soil online for less than $20. In the photo below, they are at the 24 hour mark under grow lights. They'll be ready to harvest this week.
Outdoors, we've got even more going on than last year. Five rows that are 1 foot wide and 25 feet long, right in front of our house. The area was tarped with silage tarp for 60 days this summer of the weeds and their seeds, and then hoed into rows after we tilled. I mulched the pathways and densely planted frost hardy seeds on all of them.
Presently, there are multiple types of mustard, kale, collards, onions, choy, mizuna, arugula, lettuce, spinach, chard, radish, mache, borage, and parsley.
Leaves, shoots, and roots aren't the only trick in our bag of year round provisions. We also get eggs daily from our large chicken flock, weekly from our turkey trio, and spend the winter foraging for cold-loving mushrooms in the woods. Further, we plan butchering days for our feeder pigs in the winter months to avoid the flies.
With this blog series, I plan on shattering the idea that producing food is limited to warm months or those with land. We will go over windowsill herb gardens, mason jar sprouting setups, microgreen growing, winter gardening, meat production, starting a chicken flock from scratch, canning, and more.
I hope you'll follow along and get inspired to start your own year of food production through these posts. Feel free to reach out if you need help getting started, book recommendations, or a supply list for any of the projects we discuss in this series.
Happy New Year, sweet friends.