Happy New Year! We hope you had a lovely holiday and enjoyed some time with family and friends (or on your own!). Here at the farm we’ve been observing the winter solstice with more intention the past few years as we become more and more in tune with the land and feel more deeply the changes and rhythms that characterize each season and shift of season. This year we’ve been enjoying the dark time more than usual and we had a beautiful solstice fire in the forest with our neighbours and friends where we really felt the beauty and depth of this rest time.
The solstice marks an ever so slight shift in the rhythm on the farm as the beginning of the new season gets just a bit closer. Things that could be put off in November and December like crop planning and seed ordering are more critically important to do now. And it’s easy to conceptualize the shrinking amount of time we now have to do winter projects before spring work begins in earnest including starting seedlings (first for spring share crops and then in March for the main season) and turning over greenhouse beds for replanting.
Our farm has turned towards hoophouse growing more and more over the years and we have been putting a lot of effort into learning and improving our winter and early spring growing to be able to bring a regular supply of farm greens to our members. Throughout the year, the hoophouses are never out of production, rotating from winter to spring greens and then into summer hot crops like tomatoes and cucumbers. We plan in great detail where and when each crop will grow based on how long it will stay in the houses and when the next crop must take its place.
So that (among many other things!) is what we are gearing up for these days. The main hoophouse is nearly empty of crops (including a crop failure of lettuce greens that grew too slowly and succumbed to a mold issue) and we will soon plant garlic for green garlic in one of the beds. We cover any finished hoophouse beds with tarps to kill off any crop residue without using tillage then take the tarps off in February/March to begin prepping and seeding them.
The other critically important task at the moment is working on our 2020 crop plan and making a seed order. We order all of our season’s seeds in January and must plan each crop in detail to make sure we buy the right amount and have what we need on hand at seeding time. It’s a fun but time-consuming task as we review each crop from last year and see what to improve, add or take away for the upcoming season.
It’s true that the solstice is just a week or so behind us and days are still very dark but the turning of the year tilts us just that much more towards a new season and gives us that slight tingle of excitement knowing we’ll be back in the soil soon!1