Lots of Life in Winter

I’m sure you’ve heard anyone who gardens say that January and the arrival of seed catalogs is like a second Christmas.  It’s no different for me as I page through my shiny magazines and get excited thinking and planning for another full year of 4 seasonal harvests!  We indeed do have a four season garden.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, most of the garden is covered in a lush green cover crop of vetch and rye, both of which re-enrich the soil with nitrogen (not oxygen, a typo last month). We also overwinter garlic which we will harvest in the summer and store for use for the whole year. In late February, I will start my seeds in flats and let the sun in our harvest room warm them to tiny seedlings which we will transplant to the garden in May for our summer harvest. Come mid to late March, I will start preparing certain beds in the garden to plant for our Spring harvest. Peas (shelled and snap), radishes, beets, chard, arugula, spinach, onions, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and parsnips. Perennials like strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus will also be enjoyed in the Spring. For the last 2 years, our small strawberry patch has given us around 35 quarts each year!  My kids don’t even ask anymore for strawberries out of season because they know what a local spring berry tastes like!  This above anything we’ve grown has been the best object lesson of how season and place affect how and what we eat.

We are also getting ready to say farewell to our pig, Curly.  Liam caught him in the greased pig contest last September at the Shenandoah County Fair.  He had a sickly start, but with a little nursing (my first time giving injections to anything not human!) he has lived to be a delightful guest in our barnyard. Like his predecessor Squealy, Curley will be donated to a local food bank via the organization Hunters for the Hungry, and he’ll end up on the plate of some local families in Luray who await him. We also have two cows, Eldon and Panda, who we bought at about 4 months of age. We are pasturing them overwinter and will sell them in the Spring. Our chickens are still all alive and well but because of the decreased sunlight hours, have slowed down their laying during the winter months.

Though winter is a more dormant season, a lot of life and growth still happen daily! We hope to share some of our harvest with you when next you’re out our way!

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