The calendar may be proclaiming that a New Year has begun, but the truth is that the new farm year has been underway for a while now. Our farmers have spent long winter hours planning and scheming. We joke that this is the only time of year that we ever see them sitting down. Crop by crop, they’ve worked out sowing schedules, carefully counting backwards from when they want to harvest to determine when they should start each crop, as well as how many plantings of each they’ll need. Open blocks of time in January and February calendar quickly fill with complex seedling schedules.
Sowing seeds is an art form unto itself. Like snowflakes, every crop is slightly different, with its own set of requirements. Some seeds germinate better with warmer temperatures while others like it cooler. Some must be buried to a particular depth in the planting medium while others must be left on the surface. Some have hard seed coats which must be cut or softened in water before planting. Meeting all these needs takes organization, attention to detail, and a great deal of patience.
Germination is never a guaranteed thing. We all cheer when it happens and sympathize when it doesn’t. Sometimes, despite good care, crops fail to sprout, or worse, sprout well but succumb to greenhouse diseases or pests. Good farmers have to be careful observers and nimble thinkers, taking note of what’s happening and rolling quickly from Plan A to B or even C or D. They also have to be the greatest of optimists, capable of envisioning row upon row of lush summertime tomatoes here during the coldest days of winter.
Food & Products
Winter harvests of greenhouse mesclun continue, but will soon slow down to make way for room for seedlings. Our hens are still laying thanks to the lights in our hen house. This is actually the one time of year where you can reliably find eggs in our egg fridge.
Priority registration for NCOF summer programs will open January 15 for current NCOF members at the Crofter level ($125) or above. For the general public, registration will open March 1. If you’d like particular weeks, or have children who are the right age for our very popular Forest Explorers or Budding Farmers programs, we highly suggest signing up for a membership now so that you’ll get your choice of dates and sessions.