Sunday, March 6, 2011

Drowsy Winter, Beginning Spring

Winter turns me more nocturnal than usual, and this winter especially since I've put so many late nights in working on the house project. Nary an end in sight there, though much progress has been made...I've resigned to not being "done" before the farming season starts, and continuing to plug along at it while doing all the usual farm stuff as well.

No idea how that will "work". It's not like I have enough time as it is, without lambs and planting and harvesting and Farmer's Market...but I trust that I will figure it out as I go along.

Today, though, I've realized that I'm beginning to feel "spring", and that means more energy, more interest in poking around in the dirt, more enthusiasm for getting out there and doing stuff. A dim remembrance grows in the back of my brain...oh, that's why I've been so ineffective and slow at getting stuff done this winter. I've been in the cold-induced stupor of the goldfish at the bottom of the stock tanks: alive, and essentially thriving, but in suspended animation.

So, in a few minutes this morning before work, I pulled enough weeds in the high tunnel to direct seed some broccoli and cauliflower transplants, and weeded out a few of the many volunteer Upland Cress and arugula plants. Pesto, anyone? The garlic and regular chives are sprouting, ditto the chard. Lots of Ruby Streaks mustard greens, too.

Chard is amazing! The plants in the high tunnel are now 1 1/2 years old...we harvested for 2 seasons last year, and looks like at least one more season this year. Who knows how long they'll keep going? And all this with no irrigation, inside the high tunnel! There are some new plants, too, germinated by the 1/2 inch of rain last fall when we took the high tunnel cover off for a week.

Outside, there is kale and mustard and other greens under row covers. The sorrel is sprouting up, and there are fresh green leaves hugging the ground under the dead branches of lemon balm.

As I wander, investigating, taking a census of the survivors, I nibble little bits of this and that. The leaves are thick and dense and bursting with flavor, nothing at all like the vegetables in their usual main-season form. I suspect the tiny handful I browsed today had more nutrients than a couple bags of grocery store salad put together. I want to do some research on that, to document that really, even small bits of really intensely healthy plants can make a significant contribution to a balanced diet.

So much to study, experiment, learn and do! Full of ideas this year, as always. Track soil temperatures and learn what the parameters are for various weeds, so I can better use them as indicators. Effects of rain and high tunnel on soil temperatures. How to make the high tunnel cover easier to take off and put on (alone). How to capture and re-direct and store the rainwater that runs off the barn and high tunnel so I can grow more in the high tunnel without
irrigating. How to replicate and manage the micro-climate effect of the barrels of water at the back of the high tunnel.

I visited Mom and Dad in Manhattan, KS, recently: like looking in a mirror! They are dreaming and plotting and planning as well, along the lines of integrated tilapia/vegetable production in their high tunnel. So many possibilities!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can imagine it would be hard to take the top off the high tunnel. And I love how you're thinking of redirecting water into to it (since I know how much you disdain watering :) Do you feel the need to test or amend the soil in the high tunnel due to salts accumulating on the surface?
I love hearing about everything that's overwintering, thanks for sharing. And I've been craving pesto for weeks now!