Tis the Season!

Merry Holidays to you all. We hope this message finds you in good health and excitement for the winter break that is so many cultural cornerstones. I’m sure you’ve found all the right gifts and recipes to share and are at ease with the coming week(s), heh! More realistically you’re more like us, scrambling to assemble some gifts, send some letters with thoughts and checking the car tire’s pressure for the ride abroad!

Ahhhhhhh, these are the winter days buffered with our soothing wood stove. Lovingly packed with wood by the fire-starters of the house, this old fashioned heat source always pleases! When not gathered around it, there is plenty shaking around the farm to explore and witness, as the ground begins to fully harden and seize up with frost…

{Sorghum/Sudan grass reduced to mulch by frost!}

Suddenly 2018 is already here!! Piles of new seed magazines adorn the dinner table and plans for next year are laid out and hopeful! We’ve shared our Thanksgiving meals and are already collecting lists of tools and seeds to buy. It’s hard to not get carried away into the next season as a diversified veggie farmer, that’s for sure. Especially as covercrops like Sorghum(above) die back and the clover below waits in it’s shadow’s, the farm can quickly slip into the next season. But you can walk around the farm a bit to help slow down and witness the beautiful nature of living with freezing temperatures.

{Young buds on a Serviceberry}

This year saw beautiful crops from our Wild Abundance orchard. Walking casually you can see all the little buds on trees and bushes, carefully hiding next year’s growth from the cold. Our last harvested fruit, the quince, entertain Jasper nearly everyday. Its easy for him to see their stoic yellow color and large size on the table; a meal upon themselves. That kid’s gonna have a strong jaw! As usual aronias produced abundantly and hazelnuts saw a first strong harvest of their nuts, beating those pesky squirrels to the punch! Their catkins, or male flower, hang in the wind ready for warm temperatures to arrive to release the pollen.

{Hardy Czech Lavender}

Our newly formed herb beds are tucked in with protective mulch and straw. Although some herbs are hardier than others, many prefer some cover from the harsh snow and ice that will soon arrive. Looking over those flat beds belies what beauty will poke through the straw and be born anew. Ah the farmer’s eye of potential. Although, some herbs find it too unbearable, like rosemary. They are easily trimmed, dug up and potted in the greenhouse where the climate is more similar to their coastal fancy.

{Fair-weather friend,  Rosemary}

It was also a rainy year and seeing the leaf print of a first year comfrey plant can quickly attest to that! This is a classic permaculture plant used for many things including compost tea, a natural smootherer under fruit trees, as dry mulch and the like; due their far reaching roots and profuse foliage. Truly a sleeping giant with a bit of green signaling their readiness!

{Sleeping giant,  Comfrey}

The garden is truly a testament to our reliance on annuals for sustenance and perhaps their weakness. Where as the perennials have readiness to make anew as soon as it’s warmer, a certain flatness is now upon these rows, with most plants melted to the ground or starting to substantially wilt from Jack Frost visits.  Creeping grass and weeds have become decent cover crops.  Winter hold-outs include the northerly Kale and, well, not many others! Our red kale seems the hardiest of the lot remaining stiff and almost unbleached from the frosts.  Your time will come too friend!

{Champion Collards and Nash’s Green Kale, hiding out}

After touring the garden patch you realize how vulnerable some plants are to these chilly times.  As Kass and I are seed-growers, we quickly made moves to save our favorite plants for seed making next year.  Tucked into warm coolers(ha!) hovering around a pleasing 34 F are our favorite kale, collards carrots, cabbage and others. They will patiently slow down and try to resist rotting until we make it farther around the Sun to be planted out again!  But that doesn’t stop us, heh! Tempted by UW-Madison carrot breeding techniques, we’re trying out sprouting some carrots indoors to make seed this winter in collaboration with UW-Whitewater greenhouses!  You gotta stay busy, right?  Why not a little dip into carrot breeding?

{Carrots be tricked into making seed!  Here an oxheart type called Guerande}

Well, thanks for taking a little tour of the Regenerative Roots with me!  Stop by the market stand some weekend and catch up!

~ Clint, December 18th, 2017