I am a generally happy person. I can look on the bright side of most things but then comes February. I am sure there must be places were February does not look as it does in Western Massachusetts. Here, it is gloomy and cold and damp. The snow has a patina of soot and salt and mud, The sun is still weak when it bothers to appear at all. We are getting a bit sick of the canned food but the greenhouse is not producing. The kids have colds and they don’t want to go outside. But there is one glimmer of hope in this dreary landscape. The seed catalogs are here!!! If you think you can’t raise food because you live in the city or don’t have time or have lousy soil or some other excuse, get over it. Everybody can grow something and most of us can grow quite a bit, even on a tiny lot. There are a bunch of good books out there to get you started. Borrow a few  before you commit to a purchase but when you find one you like, own it. My best books are dog eared and dirty from use. If you are on a limited budget, a good start are some of the Storey Country Wisdom Bulletins (www.storeycom). They can be had for around $4.00 and pack in a ton of good information. The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Perkins is due out in April. I was lucky enough to see an advance copy. This one is a must have if you have a small lot and want to be more self-sufficient. So today, plan your garden. At the very least, get yourself a jar, a square of cheesecloth,a rubber band a bag of lentils. Put a tablespoon of the lentils in the jar. Add a 1/4 cup warm water and let them soak for a few hours. Cover with cheesecloth (hold that in place with rubber band), then drain off the water. 2-3 times a day, rinse the lentils with tepid water and drain. Keep the jar in a dark spot. In three days you will have sprouts. Eat them. I like them on tuna sandwiches. I toss them into muffins and soup and and stir frys. There you go. Your first garden and a step toward self-sufficiency. By the end of February, you will be planting potatoes in garbage cans (honest) and cherry tomatoes where that ugly spider plant used to hang.

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