Reading fellow bloggers I heard about a new USDA hardiness zone map. What is a hardiness map? Hardiness zones are one of the keys to knowing what plants will be successful or not in your area. Basically, the map tracks how cold it gets in your area. In my zone (5b) we can get as cold as -15 to -10 degrees, so in combination with when the temperatures arrive it determines what you and I can grow. So when you look at seed catalogs and want to buy plants often the seed companies will tell you in what zones plants will thrive.
With the new map my zone has not changed, but many others have. I wanted to share this, and encourage you to share this with others. Go to the USDA website to check out what your hardiness zone is, and if it changed.
On Saturday I attended the first part of the Steuben County Cooperative Extension’s 2012 Sustainability Workshop. The morning session was about starting backyard poultry. I have been thinking about adding a few chickens, but do not have experience with poultry. Learning the basics was very helpful, and learning from experienced people’s mistakes was a big help too. A local farmer also talked about heritage breed chickens, which was really interesting. Maybe in the next couple of years I will add chickens to the Cohocton River Rock Micro Farm.
The afternoon session was about heirloom seeds, sprouting, and micro-greens. I remember sprouts being a popular fad sometime in the 80’s and I thought they were okay, but I think there was always some waste because the were so many in one box. I only remember buying thin in a box. This session I was able to learn how to grow sprouts at home.
I put about 1/2 a tablespoon into the jar and covered them with water overnight. In the morning drain them and rinse with lukewarm water. Place them in a dark place and lay the jar on its side.
You rinse at least twice a day. Keep them in the dark until they are 1 1/2 inches long.
Then give them some sun to green up. Keep rinsing them at least twice a day. When they are ready to eat I will put them into the refrigerator for up to a week. Food safety is very important, so rinsing is very important. We use cheese cloth to cover the jar lid so you can rinse and drain the seeds easily. I am growing Red Russian Kale and Fenugreek. I am looking forward to a healthy, fresh, and green snack this winter.
We also got the opportunity to plant some Micro-greens. Micro-greens are basically sprouts that are grown in the soil. I started them on Saturday and hope to eat them soon.
Sprouts and Micro-greens are very nutritious and can add a lot of fresh garden flavor to your Winter eating. If you try to grow these make sure your buy from a seed company that tests their seeds for salmonella and other food borne diseases.
If you live in our area I encourage you to check out the other Sustainability Workshops the Steuben Cooperative Extension is offering, you will find me there. Click here to learn more.
Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.