We've been so busy at the farm these last weeks since our final CSA delivery that I haven't had much opportunity to post a blog. We're not yet finished our garlic planting since we were interrupted about halfway through by the early snowfall. Luckily, it has all melted and tomorrow I'll be planting the soft neck varieties for next year's harvest. But in the meantime, since it's dark so early today I figured I'd take a moment to update you all on happenings at the farm.
The other day Emily and Lizzie came out for a photo shoot. Here's Lizzie on her walk-about.
I'm a very big fan of lettuces that are cold hardy. This one is actually the least cold hardy of any that I plant for winter. It will survive the winter and be ready in spring but it's not much good relative to others for harvests in the deep winter. However, at this time of year, the cold weather brings out the darkest of the reds. Beautiful.
Red Salad Bowl
Each fall I plant spinach to last us and our members through the winter. It seems I'm never planting enough. This year I went, what I thought, was overboard. Turns out I have a lot of interest in spinach from the growing numbers of folks turning to their local farms to provide a safe, healthy alternative to the globalized, industrial food-like system. This is one bed that's ready now. The others will hopefully come online shortly!
Here is an experiment I tried this fall. Tennis Ball Lettuce is a miniature head lettuce, very light green. I will try again next year as this lettuce, while fine and tasty, didn't get into the ground early enough to head up fully. The heads are a bit looser than they are in the summer. Like I said, still delicious!
Tennis Ball Lettuce
Here is a beautiful, wonderful example of, 'they don't make them like they used to'. This amazingly beautiful variety of lettuce is a rare French Heirloom from a couple centuries ago during the height of what is known as French Market Gardening. This Parisian system of gardening was an amazingly self-sufficient system of what I call 'closed loop' farming. I'm trying to emulate the intensive nature of the Parisian system at our farm. This lettuce is extremely cold hardy and was actually growing (not just dormant) in late January last year in our solar heated hoop house!
Merveille des Quatre Saisons Lettuce
(Marvel of Four Seasons)
And here is how we make the magic happen...partially. This system is touted by people like Eliot Coleman. Some people call them quick tunnels, some call them low tunnels, etc. I don't think they are particularly quick but that's probably because of the extra effort I make to ensure the hoops are secure in the ground. Either way, it's still a great system for keeping things through the winter. Here I've got red lettuce, head lettuce, beet greens and two varieties of fall broccoli.
And here is one of our mobile greenhouses. It looks a lot different than it did in the summer, stock full of tomato plants climbing to the roof and back. Even though I love tomatoes I think I prefer this way, the orderliness of it is appealing to my sensibilities. It's much harder to keep tomatoes in check.
And here is where it all starts. Actually, this is about two weeks after it starts. These beds look bare but if you look very closely, you can see the lines from our 6-row precision seeder. You probably wouldn't be able to make out the tiny spinach plants just making their way into the world. These rows are now covered with more low tunnels and will remain so until spring. I hope to pull them off to reveal a series of beds filled to the brim with spinach.
Here are some more with baby carrots, kale and parsnips.
Here are the remnants of our tomato column. Luckily, I inter plant with lots of other things, in this case leeks and chard so this part of the garden is still productive.
And here is one of our concoctions including many items from the summer and fall gardens. Roasted Vegetables of Fall. This is one of the items available to our Winter Club Members. If you haven't signed up for the Winter Club you can click the link at the right to learn more.
Here are some more items. Specifics below.
Soup n' Snack Carrots
Prepared Butternut Squash
Prepared Pie Pumpkin
I hope to finish planting garlic this weekend, keep your fingers crossed, and then I'll have a bit more time at night (that's when I do all the separation and grading before planting in the daylight hours) to do things like blog postings and begin assessing date from this season to plan for next. Talk to you soon!