Official: the garden season really is over

Snow-covered field means the garden season’s over!

OK, so this garden is really over for the season! Called due to extremely cold, snowy conditions that don’t seem likely to let up any time soon. I’d been counting on one more melt-off, but it’s only been freezing cold and more snow since the fall that covered it all eight days ago. And there’s no let-up in the 15-day forecast… So, I got caught out a bit. There are still carrots under there, that I might not see until spring, and I didn’t finish mulching the garlic (I think I was unconsciously pushing for a side-by-side test of mulch and no mulch, against prudent practice, and now I have one—it will be interesting…). The big experiment (and possibly, gamble) is with leaving the green manure cover crops—oats, rye—over winter, to be tilled in in spring. In the pic, you can see it’s smooth to the left of the main path, and rough on the right (at the very bottom is the composting windrow where the last of the leftovers go). The left side (plus eight sections across the north end, out of sight at the top) is fully prepped and ready to seed as soon as the ground dries out in spring (peas first!). To the right, I’ll have to wait until it’s dry enough to till with the Kubota compact tractor—determined by the weather, this could hold me back a couple of weeks. Or more. After that, again weather-dependent, there’s the minimum wait of a week or two after tilling for the cover crops to break down. But, with two-thirds of the field ready, however the weather goes, it’ll be fine!

Sooo, organic IS better!?!

New organic study  says organic vegetables are better

It’s not the politics, it’s kinda common sense… I was drawn into a link today on the Seasons Eatings Farm blog: “This article is informative.” That’s a pretty seductive word, “informative.” Click! And, lo and behold, a whole new chapter to the rather mind-boggling mess of the “organic debate.” Sure, it’s yet another study, and it’s only the preliminary findings, and so forth, BUT, it’s also the first full-blown, government-funded (European Union) scientific investigation of organic food, with seemingly unequivocal results. The reporter of this article is pressuring the UK’s government food agency to change its official stance that eating organic is a “lifestyle” choice and that organic food has not proven to be better for you, to reflect these findings. That’s interesting… Will it be like cigarettes and cancer down the road, class action lawsuits against Big Dairy for knowingly supplying crappy milk that caused premature osteoporosis that led to complications like unnecessarily broken bones…and death? Holy heck! Continue reading Sooo, organic IS better!?!

Machines and snow

Tiny tractors slightly snowed in

Looking out the side door of the Extended Milkhouse, this is what I see. The mighty tiny tractors don’t seem too formidable under a little snow. A good old fashioned blizzard and they’d be…gone! A few years of crazy short winters, and it’s easy to forget how different the seasons used to be around here. Not that long ago, 15-20 years, winter meant a whole new ground level, with permanent snow at least two or three feet deep settled in for the duration wherever it wasn’t plowed. Now, it’s practically a novelty. I can hardly believe I’m not exaggerating… Well, there may not be as much snow, but winter’s still coming, and I’m still going to have to soon finish cleaning out the drive shed to put the machines away…

Outpost returns

Veggie stand in pieces

The mildly ambitious veggie outpost experiment of earlier this year has returned in pieces. The stand came back today, courtesy of Conall, who took it apart and dropped it off (you can’t help but notice, he’s pretty thorough when it comes to taking things apart…). In any case, a nearby coffee shop wanted to sell a small, choice selection of organic veggies. They were buying upfront at normal prices and marking them up a bit. Our part was to harvest once or twice a week, and deliver (only 12 miles)—building the stand was basically a last-minute favor… Why it didn’t work came down to that simple consideration that supermarkets are built on: SHELF LIFE. The coffee shop couldn’t get a handle on how to keep the veggies perky and fresh. I heard about an attempt to revive baby eggplants, shriveling after a day in the sun, by misting them like salad greens. Yikes. I would’ve helped if I could’ve, but I have zero experience with storage in a store-type situation. I’d kinda assumed that, since they prepare and sell food, they were equipped to figure it out. Not so. At the farmers’ market, I start in the cool early morning, it’s only six hours, and the veggies move quickly, so it’s all fine, without refrigeration or cooling, even on the hottest summer days. But keeping displayed veggies perfectly presentable for even a couple of days is a whole other specialized thing. Anyhow, after six weeks or so, we stopped. There was no ill will or anything, and we continued to supply mesclun for their salads for the rest of the season. The bottom line is a lesson I learned long ago, but failed to act on in this case: when you’re involved in something NEW, if there’s no plan that clearly deals with the DETAILS, chances are there will be…TROUBLE. I look forward to tackling this particular puzzle—how to handle daily fresh veggie sales—next year, when we FINALLY open the farm stand. ;)

Kale under…snow

Kale under snow

Another installment in the snow-covered series: Winterbor kale! I’m so used to rollercoaster weather and the new winters that never really get started, it’s kind of a shock to have this much snow for three days in a row in November. And there’s no melt-off in sight, with the 15-day forecast predicting little sun and day temperatures hovering under 0°C (32°F). Picked a few pounds of the kale today, it’s still holding up, particularly the young new growth. It won’t last long if it stays frozen day and night. All this watching of cold-weather crops is bound to come in handy…sometime!

Rosemary under snow

Rosemary in snow

The rosemary’s looking quite fresh and perky, buried tip deep in snow. There are many cultivars, some apparently able to overwinter in quite brutal cold. I have three types here, two without names (one a survivor of last winter’s rosemary greenhouse debacle), plus a new Barbecue cultivar. How hardy are they? Are they as happy as they look in the snow? Will I eventually take them in (as planned)? Or mulch them where they stand?

Buckets of snow

Buckets of snow came down overnight

Woke up to a world of snow. Unlike the heavy dusting a few days ago, this was a serious snowfall, looked like 5-6″ (12.5-15 cm). This will stick around for a while. I didn’t finish mulching the garlic, and there are still carrots out there, but no worries, I’m SURE it’ll melt off in the next week or two, and meanwhile, snow is a great insulating mulch!

Goats like snow

The goats have no problem with snow. It’s eating and looking out as usual!