Table of Contents
Well hello, friends!
February always feels like the month in which winter should be winding down. But if Iowa weather teaches you anything, it’s that there’s no guessing what the conditions will be. For the last few years, February has been the coldest winter month, complete with the most snow.
Hibernation during the colder months is good for two things: 1) the gardens and 2) myself! Once the weather permits, I’ll be outside as much as possible, so I need as much time right now to recharge and regroup.
This month, I’m finishing up some indoor projects, cleaning up my seed starting area, and planning what’s to come. Grab a cup of coffee (or a dirty chai latte if you saw my recent Reel), and let’s chat about the month!
Let’s talk (some more) about seeds.
If you received my newsletter from last month, you’ll recall that I ordered my new seeds for the upcoming spring season. And this month, I organized all of my seed packets and my seed starting area. The more organized I can be during these slower months, the better planting goes once the gardens thaw.
I’ll be candid: I’m not the best at planning. I like to think that I’ll have everything written out with the specifics of when and how to start each seed. Usually, it’s the last week of February, and I think: “Oh, I should start looking at my seed packets!” But this is the best thing about gardening: a garden is very forgiving. A seed started a week late or a week early will still grow and give fruit.
So you may be asking: when do you start your seeds? In the past, I always started seeds in January or February, thinking that the larger they grew, the better… right? I find that this isn’t true. If I start seeds too early, they eventually become hard to manage. They need to be continuously potted in larger containers and grow too tall to fit under my grow lights (more on these later). When they outgrow the grow lights, they become weak and spindly.
Here’s the answer: I follow the directions on the back of seed packets and plant accordingly. Usually, that means I’ll plant my seeds about six to eight weeks before I can plant them outside in the garden.
While I’m not quite ready to put the seeds in the soil yet, I am cleaning up my seed starting area. Here’s how I get it all ready:
- Clean up my grow lights. I use a high-intensity three-tier grow light system from Gardener’s Supply. These lights were an investment I made a few years ago. When I began to start my seeds, I wired a small grow light that may not even have been the correct light in my basement. I started a few seeds but always ran out of space. After years of trying to hang lights, I saved up and bought this more extensive system. It works wonderfully! Whether you want one grow light or many, the critical part is to have a full-spectrum light. The hope is that using an intense full-spectrum light will provide illumination that’s closest to what the sun emits. Optimally, a plant wants sunlight, but grow lights work great when cold and dark outside.
- Sanitize my seed starting trays. I use my trays for as long as they last. Each year, it’s essential to clean the trays to remove the prior year’s seeds and soil. I use Castile soap and water to do this!
- Procure the proper seed starting soil. Seed starting soil is lighter than regular soil and allows young roots to grow quickly with the appropriate drainage.
Having all of these items ready will make the seed starting process much more fun! Between now and the following newsletter, I’ll get my seeds into their containers, and we’ll be almost ready for spring!
Let’s talk about Kip.
Kip and his personality are truly life-giving for me. He constantly seems to forget anything working against him and acts as though nothing has happened.
Since his Meningomyelitis diagnosis in May of 2021, it feels like things are both fast and slow. The time has flown by, but it also feels like his healing is slow. At first, I thought nothing would change. But slowly, Kip proved otherwise.
As I mentioned previously, he is walking some, and any function really is a miracle! Currently, he has a deep-seated infection around his left eye that is causing large, inflamed areas. Thankfully, the sites are not seeming to bother him, nor do they affect his eyesight. Currently, the doctors are administering an antibiotic that is both ingested and applied topically, hoping to eliminate the infection. Personally, I do not see too much change stemming from the medications, but I’m hoping to see some improvement soon.
As the weather begins to warm, I can tell how much Kip will love to be outside. When we’re out in the grass, his walk is excellent! He tries to run around as he always did pre-diagnosis. His excitement is what brings me the most hope. For much of last summer and fall, I could not have him outdoors with me. This year, I can see that he’ll be outdoors a lot and enjoy what he loves!
Let’s talk about new beginnings in 2022.
Wyse Guide was conceived years ago, and other than many dreams, I had no idea what direction it would take. As I begin to give myself entirely to Wyse Guide, I’m also starting some exciting new ventures this year.
First: I’ll be speaking at two home and garden shows in the coming weeks (Des Moines, IA and Jacksonville, FL). For each show, I’ll give the same presentation at different times. I’ll be talking all about growing, caring for, using, and preserving herbs. Why herbs? Well, this is a question I’m constantly receiving in comments, messages, and emails. Herbs are terrific plants for beginners as well as seasoned gardeners, so everyone will learn something new. I can’t wait to spread the excitement about gardening!
If you can come out to either of the following shows, I would love to meet you!
Des Moines Home & Garden Show
- Dates: February 24-27, 2022
- Location: Iowa Events Center, 730 3rd Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
- My speaking times:
- Tickets: Get them here.
Jacksonville Home & Patio Show
- Dates: March 3-6, 2022
- Location: Prime Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32204
- My speaking times:
- Tickets: Get them here.
Second: This year, I’m partnering with one of my favorite gardening brands, Espoma! I have always said that I’m not too fond of traditional sponsored content and only work with brands I know and love. Espoma has been following along, watching me use their products, so it only made sense to talk about working together.
This partnership is a win-win scenario. I already use Espoma’s soils and fertilizers all the time, and this means nothing regarding my content will change! I’ll still use what I love and talk more about why I love it. They are a fantastic, family-owned company that cares about high-quality products and good gardening. These are values I can definitely get behind!
Let’s talk about cooking.
February is an in-between time of the year where the cold weather (at least in Iowa) creates a desire for comfort foods. But there’s also hope on the horizon, which ignites a craving for lighter, spring foods. Personally, I find all food comforting. I love a perfectly roasted vegetable the same amount as I do a good casserole.
Here’s what I’ve been making:
- Recently, I made a citrus chicken salad, and it’s what I’ve constantly been eating. The green goddess-style dressing also functions as a dip, and I crave the fresh flavors.
- I’ve been making my roasted vegetable and salmon salad. This recipe combines my love for roasted vegetables with my love for salmon, all in one uber-filling salad.
- Since the weather is still winter, I often make soup and eat it for a few meals. My black bean soup recipe will always be a quick stand-by.
Before I know it, I’ll have fresh greens straight from the vegetable garden, and that is what keeps me going during these long winter months!
That’s all for this cold month of February! But be assured that I’ll be back with another newsletter come March!
Until then, be kind, stay warm, and enjoy life!
If you enjoyed this newsletter and want a way to support me, you can send me a tip here!