What To Buy At The Farmer’s Market: December

What To Buy At The Farmer’s Market: December

Can you believe it’s almost winter? I am not ready for the nice fall weather to go away!

December can be a tricky month for shopping at the farmer’s market, depending on where you live. If you live somewhere that gets FREEZING cold in the winter, like I do, you’ll be lucky if you can even find a farmers market.

If you live in a state with mild winters (lucky you) then you’ll likely have a lot more options available in the winter months. So this month I decided to divide up the farmer’s market guide into colder winter states, and warmer winter states.

Our warmer winters states are places like Arizona, Southern California, Florida, and parts of Texas and Louisiana.

While our colder winter states should cover places with cold winters (but not crazy winters). If you’re in Alaska, you’re definitely going to have different options than Kentucky, so keep that in mind.

This is a very GENERAL guide. Just to show you what to keep an eye out for. If you want to know exactly what’s in season in your area, I suggest you use The Seasonal Food Guide.

You can put in where you live and it will tell you exactly what fruits and veggies are in season in your area.

But let’s get going! Here is your farmer’s market guide for December!

Colder Winter States

If you’re freezing cold all winter like me then this part of the list is for you!

Potatoes

Now you’re probably not going to find fresh potatoes in December. But many farmers (at least where I’m from) store potatoes in root cellars, so that they can sell them through the winter. So keep an eye out for some locally grown potatoes in December, so you can make mashed potatoes!

Sprouts

I love using sprouts in my meals. They’re perfect for adding on top of salads or putting on a sandwich!

Turnips

I’ve never been a huge fan of turnips, but this year I’m thinking I’ll have to try this yummy recipe for pan-roasted turnips!

Winter Squash

Winter squash stores well, so you’ll probably be able to find winter squash throughout the season. Which is perfect because winter squash is yummy and good for you!

Some recipes I’m looking forward to trying this year are:

Radishes

If you’re lucky you might still find some radishes in your area in December. I’m looking forward to trying this garlic roasted radishes recipe!

Sweet Potatoes

I didn’t realize how much I loved sweet potatoes until about a year ago. Now I love using sweet potatoes in my recipes! One of my favorite ways to use sweet potatoes is in soups like this sweet potato and sausage soup recipe!

Radicchio

Radicchio is a new one for me! I’ve never tried it! But I’m looking forward to trying this recipe for Radicchio Salad with Green Olives

Carrots

Carrots are definitely one of my favorite vegetables. I snack on them while I work! I love eating carrots with Homemade Ranch Dressing!

What to do in your garden in April

Broccoli

Broccoli is also a dinner staple for me. I love steaming broccoli for a simple side dish to go with my meals. You can also try this yummy Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipe!

Citrus

Obviously, this is not in season locally if you live in an area with cold winters. But I highly recommend trying to find citrus grown from an area near you at the grocery store.

Citrus starts coming into season in December which means that if you buy citrus grown in the U.S. at the grocery store it’s going to taste better this time of year!

Spinach

You may be able to find some spinach in your area in December. Especially if there’s local farmers that are using cold frames. I’m excited to try this bacon spinach salad this year using the bacon I get from Butcher Box.

Warmer Weather States

Now things are a little bit different for those of you who live in states with milder winters. I’m talking about you California, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Arizona. All the rest of us are jealous of your nice, mild winters.

There are probably going to be much different things available in your farmers markets than in the rest of the country.

Obviously this depends on where you live in the state as well (Northern California won’t have the same produce as Southern California).

Now there’s probably a lot more produce available than what I’m listing here, but these are some of the main items you’re going to find in the farmer’s markets starting in December if you live somewhere with a milder winter.

Citrus

I’m jealous of all y’all that have locally grown citrus at your farmers markets. Citrus is in season in December, so look for oranges, grapefruit, pomegranates, tangerines, clementines, and lemons.

You can use some of those yummy locally grown oranges to make this yummy Fresh Orange Smoothie Recipe!

Apples

Y’all know I love apples, and in milder winter states there are likely to still be some local apples around.

Carrots

Like I said before I love carrots! Look for fresh, locally grown carrots at your local farmer’s market and make some yummy Homemade Ranch Dressing!

What vegetables can you grow in cold frames? Plenty! Here's your go-to guide!

Broccoli

Also look for broccoli at your local farmer’s market! I love it, and it’s the perfect side dish for dinner! <!– Default Statcounter code for -buy-at-the-farmers-market

What To Buy At The Farmer’s Market: December


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How To Use Hay Bale Gardening To Increase Your Harvest!

How To Use Hay Bale Gardening To Increase Your Harvest!

If you’ve been curious about hay bale gardening, you’ll want to stick around for the rest of this article.

 

We’ve tried hay bale gardening on the homestead, and we’ve found that not only has it given us great yields, it’s made harvesting our veggies much easier.

 

(Here’s a really great book on Amazon that shows you tools for Hay Bale Gardening.)

 

The best part of hay bale gardening is how EASY it is – so if you have a brown thumb or are just looking for a really simple, low maintenance way to start a garden, then hay bale gardening might be for you!

 

 

It cuts down on the amount of weeds, and as the hay deteriorates, it leaves rich compost behind.

 

What is Hale Bale Gardening?

 

Hay bale gardening is essentially planting seeds into bales of hay instead of directly into the soil.

 

Think of it like raised beds, but instead of using wood and soil, you’re creating a naturally raised bed. And similarly, it prevents pests from damaging your crop.

 

Not only is this method fun, it is painlessly easy because it requires very little upkeep.

 

It also means easier harvesting because you don’t have to bend over very far to grab your tomatoes or peppers!

 

What’s the Difference Between Hay Bale Gardening and Straw Bale Gardening?

 

The main difference between straw and hay is that straw is derived from dried wheat stalks while hay is made up of dried grasses (such as bermuda, timothy, fescue, etc).

 

There’s a lot of scuttlebutt in the gardening world about whether hay bales or straw bales are better for this type of gardening.

 

Some people believe that because hay can contain seeds from the grasses or other weeds, it poses a higher risk of troublesome or dangerous weeds since some seeds might still be kicking around in the hay.

 

However, studies have shown that during the conditioning process, nitrogen is introduced to the bale to aid in decomposition, and at that time most of the existing seeds are destroyed.

 

So, What Exactly Makes Hay More Desirable Than Straw For Gardening?

 

For one thing, a hay bale garden requires less work and overall maintenance than a straw bale garden.

 

First, you don’t need to add fertilizer, unlike straw bales. Hay simply has more nutrients in it, so as it decomposes, more nutrients are released.

 

Less water is needed as well, because grasses retain moisture more effectively than straw.

 

On our farm, we found that gardening with hay bales reduced our watering to about once a day instead of 2-3 times per day during the hottest days of summer!

 

Finally, there is the likelihood that your straw could have come from genetically modified crops, such as corn or soy.

 

Think about whether or not you want your produce stemming from decomposed genetically modified plant substances!

Use Hay Bale Gardening For A Bigger Harvest!

How to Prepare Your Hay Bale Garden

 

Once you have decided to give hay bale gardening a go, your first step is obviously going to be to acquire hay bales if you do not yet have any.

 

It’s best to go with regular-sized 40 pound bales.

 

Since freshness isn’t really as much of an issue with hay for gardening as it is for animals, you can either buy your hay OR ask around to see if anyone is willing to give you old hay for free.

 

Lots of times farmers are looking to clear space and might just give you rotting bales or will sell them to you at a discount.

 

Assemble the hay bales in your yard according to how you want your garden laid out.

 

Once you have assembled the hay bales, you will want to begin the process of ensuring there aren’t any stray seeds in your hay.

 

To effectively get rid of any stray seeds, you’ll want to introduce an organic fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen into your bales.

 

When I researched high-nitrogen fertilizers, there’s a lot of options, but none I was comfortable recommending.

 

So, I turned to my friend Marie, who writes at Just Plain Living.

 

On her homestead, Marie uses urine as a high-nitrogen fertilizer (yes, that urine.)

 

She recommends if you want to take things a step further, you can also wrap the hay bales in plastic (or a tarp) after introducing the urine so the bales can “cook” and destroy all the seeds. (This step isn’t strictly necessary, though, and Marie didn’t always do it and her bales still were weed-free)

 

If you do wrap your bales in plastic, after 10 days, remove the hay from the plastic wrapping.

 

This process helps kickstart the process to create rich compost to nourish your plants as they grow.

 

Because you’re starting the composting process quickly, it’s possible that the temperature inside the hay bales can reach up to 140° Fahrenheit.

 

If you want to know exactly what the temperature is, you can use Just Plain Living

 

This can introduce a slight fire hazard, so when planning your garden layout, keep this in mind!

 

If things get too heated, wet your bales every day – if you want to be super safe, you can do it proactively. If you use the plastic or tarp, it’s ok to remove it to wet the bales.

 

You will know the process is complete when the temperature of the hay bales has returned to normal.

 

Planting Your Hay Bale Garden

 

Once your hay bales are conditioned, you’re ready to plant seeds in them!

 

This is probably the easiest part of the whole process – Just take your seeds and plant them into the hay bales.

 

From that point, all you need to do to help them grow is to continue to keep the hay bales watered once every day.

 

You should have a wonderful yield of tasty produce to collect at the end of the growing season, and as an added bonus, you can recycle the used hay bales as fresh compost for your other gardens or plant beds!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll try hay bale gardening? Why or why not? Leave a comment below!