It is hard to imagine that spring is almost here having received one of our biggest snowfalls of the year no less than a week ago. But with the sun shining, the snow melting, and an extra hour of daylight…here we go!
The seeding of onions marks the start of a new growing season every February. The seeds go in flats in the greenhouse; our winter oasis in an otherwise inhospitable growing environment. When temperatures fall to single digits at night and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, it’s odd to see tiny seedlings poke their heads out of the potting soil, searching for warmth and sunshine. It is also invigorating seeing green, seeing life, seeing growth once again. They won’t be lonely for long. This week we’ll seed leeks, cabbage, kale, and some herbs. Onions though, have the longest road ahead of them. We will give them haircuts once they reach six to eight inches tall; plant them in late April; weed them three or so times; harvest in late July; and cure and store them before sharing the bounty. I just ate one of our last onions from the 2014 season the same week we seeded this year’s crop. It is one of the only annual crops that keeps us company year round, for better or for worse.
Winter is also the perfect time to reflect on the previous year, and assess what went well and where we need to improve. We had a great growing season last year, albeit dry. Dry is much better than wet as long as we can keep everything watered. When there’s too much moisture, it’s difficult to accomplish anything in the fields. Disease spreads and plant roots struggle to “breathe” as water fills the gaps in the soil once occupied by air. Just like us, plants respire! Even though we were happy with our 2014 harvest, we are motivated to continue to learn from our mistakes and our observations. Some elements of farming, such as weather, pest infestations, and disease outbreaks are out of our hands. We can do our part to mitigate those effects and take preventative action by creating an environment that sets our crops up for success. First and foremost this comes in the form of soil management. The dirt is the immune system of the plants. Provide appropriate soil texture, microbial activity, nutrients and minerals, and plants can aspire to do great things.
That is just the beginning of their journey though. We’ll do our best to take them the rest of the way, making sure they’re fed, watered, and protected until we pass them off to you. So thank you for being a part of our community…our family, because come June, our babies will need a loving home. We are very excited to have the 2015 growing season underway, and can’t wait to see you this spring!