Well, we were going to do some seeding... then it snowed, a lot. If I have learned anything in my few years farming it has been flexibility. Some seasons are early rough Winters, some a mild start and the end is fierce making you wonder if Spring will ever return. You begin to wonder when it does thaw, how long before it dries out enough to work the fields? Did I start my brassicas too early? Should I just start flame weeding all this snow?
In the meantime, while we wait for temperatures to break the 30s again so we can shovel our way to the warm, earthy smelling greenhouse to start more seeds, we have plenty of time to go over our notes. Farming takes a lot of planning. 'So I start this seed at this time, it takes about 10 days to germinate, another month before planting out, 60 days before it's ready for harvest, we better start another succession 3 weeks later for another harvest when the first succession finishes up.'
Pheww! Now imagine we do that for all 30+ vegetables we grow! As farmers we have to take detailed notes to adapt to variables in weather, seed germination rates, timing, new varieties, potential crop damage, when to prepare for certain pests. Everything is just as important as the next!
Once we've figure out our timing, and our successions, and in turn the quantity of seeds we'd need, it's time to figure out where we put them. It is very important to rotate crops so the nutrients in the soil are not depleted and so pests and disease do not accumulate. To make crop rotation easier, we're blocking an acre into four 100'x100' plots one dedicated to each crop group. We will have a block for roots (beets, carrots, onions, radish, turnips) which will be followed in rotation by legumes (peas and beans) to build nitrogen for the heavy feeding fruits (cucumber, eggplant, tomato, pepper, squash, melon) followed by greens (broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, spinach, etc.).
Oh how we can't wait to see the gardens full of prolific vegetables, flowers buzzing with pollinators and predators, soil teaming with microbial life converting organic matter into food for the plants! In just a few short weeks we'll be harvesting produce fresh for families to enjoy before it is even days old. The time between the crazy jump into action of Spring and the intense studying and note taking of Winter is the perfect time to appreciate why we do what we do, and how exciting it is to have a growing community dedicated to supporting local food. Thank you to the Winter for providing a short beak in the hard work, a time to gather our thoughts and intentions. And thank you, whoever you are, for whatever you do, for you are part of it all.