As a diehard summer fan, thinking about January and February is not at the top of my list right now. It's beautiful, sunny, and warm outside and we're swimming in some of the best produce you can imagine. However, as a farmer, planning ahead is the name of the game so it must be done!
While I've learned to appreciate aspects of all seasons, and farming has been instrumental towards that goal, a part of me feels wistful when we start planning our winter crops.
And that's just what we've accomplished this week! It's a bit mind-bending seeing as we're still harvesting oodles of cherry tomatoes, okra, and watermelon, so many summer goodies! To think about cold, windy days spent in the oases that are the high tunnels in the winter has me so appreciative of these August days.
Our first step in planning is to look at our planting list from this past winter and discuss what went well and what did not. We keep the varieties that we liked and that produced well and find substitutions for the ones that bolted too early or didn't give us a good harvest. Even though we're growing in high tunnels that are definitely warmer than the outside temperature, we don't actively heat them (unless a night's temperature goes below 25 degrees). So, we need to search for varieties that are cold tolerant and hardy for our Winter CSA.
This year we're keeping the classics like kale, collards, bok choy and lettuce - greens we know will do well and produce harvests week after week. We've added a few new herbs and we're going to try growing some sprouting broccoli this year, wish us luck! Instead of going with a premade cut greens mix that includes some varieties we aren't fans of, we're ordering a bunch of seeds to blend ourselves. Having this kind of flexibility and agency is quite fun honestly!
Once we make this plan, we order the necessary seeds from our two favorite seed companies, Johnny's and High Mowing. They both have a fantastic selection of organic seeds which result in reliably high quality vegetables. Then, since we contract most of our seedling growing out to a nearby greenhouse operation, we pass along the seeds and plan and they get to work!
Then it's a waiting game until the beginning of October when we'll do our big high tunnel planting for the winter. In the meantime we have sweet potatoes, winter squash, and regular potatoes coming along outside that will also be instrumental towards supplying our Winter Share members with good veggie variety throughout the cold season.
If you've ever wished for better access to local veggies all year round, then consider joining us this year for our Winter CSA! It runs from December to April on a biweekly basis and provides a welcome dose of brightness and freshness during the darker months.
Thanks for reading along and keep enjoying the summer produce, it's not going away anytime soon!