2018 has been frigid so far with temps not reaching above freezing until yesterday. Sunday morning was -2 at the farm, which is awfully close to the record low for the Charlottesville area (-10 in 1985) and well below the average January low of 25. Life pretty much comes to a standstill at the farm when it is this cold. The animals all hunker down in their nests or sheds. We give them lots of extra straw for bedding and refresh their water throughout the day.
The few greens that were hanging on in the garden have been completely killed off now. And the top few inches of soil is frozen solid. We don’t typically get such a hard freeze here. Last winter was particularly mild; we had greens last all the way till spring and the soil was workable all winter long. Hopefully, without a layer of snow to insulate the ground, this hard freeze will kill some of the pests and plant disease that overwinter in the soil. That’s the silver lining I’m hoping for anyway.
After taking some time off for the holidays, We’re back into planning mode for the farm. Our first seed order went out last week and we’re anxiously checking the mailbox for delivery. As soon as they arrive, we’ll be starting onions, leeks and some early greens in the greenhouse. Since sunflower shoots were so popular at the market last year, we’ve been trialing some more microgreens to offer this year. So far, pea shoots and a spicy mix are looking promising and tasting delicious.
Hopefully you’ve seen our CSA info by now and are thinking about signing up. If not, you can find all the details here. 25 weeks of beautiful produce and a weekly visit to our farm, what’s not to love!
We finally placed the order for our hoophouse yesterday. We’re expecting delivery and installation the first week of March. This 30’x72′ structure will cover almost half of our current growing space. A hoophouse creates a protected environment that allows for greater control over the growing environment. It also means we can get summer crops started a little bit earlier and get tomatoes to market sooner.
We also begin a fence building project in our woods this week. Our hogs are currently moved around with a series of moveable electric fence. It works, but is not terribly efficient. To improve efficiency and ensure that we move the hogs frequently, we are installing a permanent perimeter fence around 5 or so acres of our woods. The perimeter fence will then be divided into smaller paddocks. The hogs will be moved every few days giving them access to fresh places to root and allowing the forest floor to recover before they return.