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Plum Granny Farm Weekly Update -- So What *Do* Farmers Do in the Winter?

Posted 1/12/2018 12:19pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday
Hope you made it safely and warmly through the polar plunge earlier in the week!  Our low was 3 on Sunday.  Don't recall getting that cold before.  We're not complaining though -- our sales rep at High Mowing Seeds was at -30 earlier in the week!  But as our wacky NC winters do, we're up to 65 right now.  Our ice bucket sculptures in last week's newsletter are now completely gone.  But we are looking to drop 40 degrees by tomorrow night down to 24.  It's enough to make your head spin!


So what DO farmers do in the winter?  We get asked this question a lot.  Many folks think that we nap a lot, read books for fun and watch a bunch of movies.  Of course we did do some of that in December.  And I'm reading Instagram posts (with some envy) about farmers taking vacations in Ecuador, Mexico and even just the beach.  But now for us, as Ray says, "Break time is over!"  We are flat-out in gear and preparing for the season ahead.  And we've are planning a great one for you!

The warmth this week has given us the opportunity to get some fields ready for spring planting.  Although we don't want to shape beds yet, prepping the soil now will make it easier to get things in the ground come March. 

Jonny is learning how to use the Grillo walk-behind tractor and is using it here to prep the beds in Raz 1.  There are 6 empty beds there now -- we removed fall-bearing raspberries a few years ago once the fruit flies (spotted wing drosophila) became such a problem for late fruit.  We'll be adding 2 more rows of blackberries and 2 rows of raspberries here along with trellised peas and beans.  Plants are ordered and they'll get planted in late March!

We are also doing lots of clean-up of the field margins to remove low hanging branches and to clear trees that have fallen.  That generates a LOT of debris that we need to burn.  We've had a couple of great days to do that -- no wind makes for perfect conditions.  Here's Chris with what is left of several trailer loads of brush!

Since we have so many downed trees and brush to get rid of, we are researching making bio-char as a possible soil amendment. Stay tuned!

We are also tending our overwintered crops.  Unfortunately several field crops didn't make it with the frigid temps.  We hit the point of no return with our chard, kale, broccoli and even collards.  Most of these will take a pretty good freeze uncovered but it appears that 3 degrees is just too darn cold!


But the good news is that plants in the hoophouse and even under cover in the field are doing pretty well!


Farming in the winter is a bit like having your home remodeled on one of those HGTV shows -- waiting for the "reveal" can be a bit nerve-wracking!

So see, farmers do a LOT in winter!  We haven't even talked about putting together crop plans, ordering seed and planning events -- ALL of which we have been doing!

So the next time you hear someone wondering aloud about "What DO farmers do in the winter?," you'll have an answer!

That's about it for the news from the farm for now.  We'd better get back to more crop planning and then over to the greenhouse to start seeding onions!

Have a great weekend!  Let's celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday and honor his memory by doing something to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.  It seems like we need something positive now more than ever.

Until next week,
Cheryl & Ray

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