The Turning Point
Scarlet Nantes Carrots dug from the garden, Winter Solstice, 2013
What strange warm weather—and how welcome. Even now, it is 66 degrees outside, almost midnight on Sunday after the solstice. We all know that much cold weather is coming, yet, as of today, December 22, the days officially have started getting longer.
For gardeners, this is one of the best days of the year, the turning point, with rebirth en route. The winter solstice and its promise of transformation has once again come and gone. Planting and seed starting is just a month or so away.
The Winter Solstice is celebrated for its place in human history. The solstice has many names and those of us from Anglo traditions know well the terms Midwinters and Yule. When I attended college in the Dark Ages, my oh-so-traditional alma mater used the term Midwinters, which has its origins in ancient Anglo Saxon England.
Midwinters is a time for rest and that’s what been happening here. It’s also a time for new beginnings and for planning.
This year, the farm will not have a direct CSA but will participate in an area CSA and in local markets. It will be a year to focus on planting more than marketing. The poultry/egg operation will continue and there’s a growth plan there as well, and much of this year’s focus has been on poultry.
But our planting emphasis will be different from prior years, and for 2014 will focus on table greens, herbs, high nutrient value wild edibles, and medicinal plants. The key emphasis? Healthy food, as always, with a continued focus on heirlooms, but with 2014 bringing an additional focus on unique nutrient elements.
Purslane, valued for its high content level of alpha-linoleic acid (good replacement for fish oil) was identified as a great wild edible in one of the farm blogs in 2013.
We’ve also written about Lamb’s Quarter, an excellent source of calcium. There are other plants, many wild edibles that bring health and flavor. This latter area, along with traditional culinary herbs, will be a new focus for 2014.
2014 will include more year-round gardening, with more understanding of what grows well in cold weather. Last year an heirloom variety of Arugula, Roquette plant as my grandmother called it, thrived in 7 degree weather. 7 degrees! Frost would come and yet after the frost melted, the plant could still be harvested. Right now there are wonderfully flavorful heirloom carrots ready to be harvested—they’ve wintered amazingly well. And did I mention the flavor? It seems to have become more intense with the cold. One of the many lessons learned in 2013: carrots are a wonderful winter crop.
Terembry will continue its mission to grow healthy food without synthetic pesticides or herbicides and with avoidance of GMOs. 2014 will also bring a focus on completing certifications, a long term goal of the farm.
There’s a lot to do for 2014 and many new beginnings. But for now, for this final week of the year, the farm’s focus is rest.
Bears hibernate in winter, sleeping off the fat of the last year, and awaken in early spring. Not a bad model to follow.
Yuletide greetings to all, and may the coming year be one of good tidings! Nollaig shona duit/daoibh !