Winter is offering a final reminder of her cold nature as we head into the final weeks before Spring. The past few days, we’ve remained locked in below freezing temperatures. Water buckets were solid before the end of the day and needed constant attention. That’s ok, because both Brownie and Branwen are still holding their kids in; good thing, because today it was snowing and bitter out again. The temperatures are trying to warm up, but we’re continuing to expect snow for a few more days.
On the bright side, the precipitation is greatly needed on the landscape, and up in the mountains, we’ll have great skiing and snow pack! Keeping track of the moisture banking up at elevation tells me what kind of a summer we’re in for. Slow melting water will have time to soak into the ground, hard rain erodes away quickly, and does not soak in to replenish the aquifers, which feed my well. Cold weather also hampers the insect populations, that in turn saves many of our crops from pestilence, but might also be hurting beneficial insects like bees and lady bugs, along with ally predator insects like lacewings and wasps.
In the gardens, our cloche and cold frames vigilantly guard the overwintered greens like radishes and spinach. Other cold hardy edibles, including kale, will continue year-round production. It’s taken little effort this year for salad through the seasons. Other seeds sewn a few weeks ago during the warm period will have a shock if starting the germination process. Until the ground warms up, those seeds are sleeping just below the frost line. Mulch will help to keep them safe till the end of April.
More young native plants are moving into the kitchen garden this year. There will be vegetable production happening there too; including garlic, which was planted in a few months ago. This bed might just evolve into a nursery for young perennials. I will certainly want to propagate many established verities on the land already. The tree nursery is getting full, and my front garden does host more than enough space for my personal food production needs. When the raised beds are completed, they will host additional food growing space as the farm continues to expand to meet the needs of our community.
With the weather outside a little frightful, we’re taking time to plan for the warm up planting rush. I’ve enjoyed pouring through the permaculture and woodland living materials in the home library and online. I’ve been meeting face to face with principal networks who will be directing certain projects on the land later this summer, including some forestry which will require experience with a chainsaw I do not have. (aka massive trees being harvested to prevent damage to outbuildings, along with the thinning of overcrowded groves on the farm. More to come on that front in July!
Right now there are lots of baby animals incubating away into March. By then, we’ll be ready for the day and night tending of chicks and kids. Hopefully the weather will allow for more red alder thinning and some log inoculation to boost our crop of edible mushrooms. The stream buffer fence build has slowed, though I hope to have that project completed by the end of March for sure. As soon as the ground thaws, we’ll be back to post setting and fence erecting.