Winter garden update

Hello all. Since it is now January I thought I'd drop in and give a quick winter gardening update. The winter garden is thriving. Here is a photo of one of my cold frames full of winter lettuce. Over the past three weeks we've hired a great photographer and we have been madly doing photo shoots for not one but two forthcoming books: my winter gardening book (out in April 2013) and "Bread, Naturally: A Modern Guide to the Health Benefits of an Ancient Tradition."

Today was the third or fourth photo shoot for the natural yeast bread book. This photo I've posted is from the winter gardening photo shoot. And I gave what publishers call "proof approval" to a text-only first edit of the yeast book today. We hope to have the photo shoots wrapped up next week. Then I need to get back to the serious business of writing the winter gardening book :) Did I mention my full-time job? :)

We've been eating a lot out of the garden lately, which is really fun in the winter. We went to the grocery store tonight and bought some yogurt and a few cheapo too-ripe bananas for the kids. Don't need to buy tomatoes -we have those in abundance (yes, in January. And yes, I just used a quart and a half of them to make the BEST tomato-lime-chickpea soup). No need to buy lettuce, or potatoes, or onions, or squash, or any greens -- we have all that. Certainly don't need to buy eggs - we got five more of those from the chickens just today alone. Fresh carrots? Got those. Turnips? Check. Rutabaga? Check. I don't have fresh peas right now, only because I didn't plan very well. But the peas are up. The last ones sprouted in the cold frame on Christmas Day. We even have pole beans (in the green house).

What else to report. The aphids got a little too happy in the greenhouse, so this week I made my own natural aphid killer, which worked excellently. I put a whole onion and a whole garlic bulb into the blender with a couple tablespoons of cayenne pepper with a quart of water. I pureed this and then let it sit overnight in a mason jar. The next day I strained it and put half in a spray bottle and diluted one to one and sprayed down all the greenhouse plants. The next day I sprayed them all down again with the second half. Presto! The next day, all those little green obnoxious aphids were dead. Worked like a charm, and it was completely organic. Take that, Monsanto.

By the way, its been in the 80s every day in the greenhouse, and that's with the vents open all day.

In the backyard, the baby lettuce in the hot bed is thriving. The Swiss chard is happy as a clam in the cold frame. All ten of my experimental winter lettuces are doing well with absolutely no protection. I am testing these ten varieties of winter lettuce as a volunteer researcher for the federal government. There is a clear winner, which I won't announce for now, since the seed is not available for purchase anywhere. I'm proud to say that I will be the first person in the world to offer this seed for sale, because I'm the only garden researcher working with the federal seedbank to test winter lettuces! I'm enjoying it a lot.

So, back to work. :) A huge thank you to everyone who had supported "The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers." The third printing will hit shelves late this month, and the book will soon be available in bookstores everywhere again. I know that most stores are sold out and that has been sold out for a couple weeks and I'm sorry for those of you who have been unable to get copies. More are coming soon! My hope is that everyone who has the book is putting it to work, not just putting it on a shelf. :) -Caleb