The end of 2015 causes me pause to reflect on the season of 2015. The weather more than anything else dominated my thoughts much of the season and provided us with plenty of challenges. For Homegrown Harvest it was our third growing season as a business and as professional growers. The year began with cold but dry air with the snows holding off until mid January. I remember vividly since we picked up our riding mower/ snowthrower on January 6th from Sears. It took Mark a week of working on it to put the snow thrower attachment on it; he finished right before the first of what turned out to be thirteen snowfalls that were big enough to plow. I believe it snowed around 60″+ where we are in zone 6b; parts of New England saw much more such as Boston at 109″+ where Mark’s son lives.
The springtime came in cold and wet; the snows gave way to rain and it was a soggy season. We were able to seed early crops of peas and greens without any problem in the raised beds by March 6th just about the same time as our last big plowable snowfall. The top two inches of soil at that point were workable and I started throwing in seeds I could beginning from that point on.
Summer continued to be cool but the rain stopped altogether for months. Clients who didn’t water their gardens regularly didn’t get the yields that others who had some sort of irrigation in place did. The cooler temperatures stalled and delayed the ripening of many tomatoes and other warm weather crops. But in time and with patience we got fantastic yields overall that just took a while to ripen. For instance, some of our hot pepper plants, we had at least 3 – had so many peppers on them – one plant per variety was plenty. Thankfully Mother Nature finally turned up the heat for a few days with degrees of 90+ then summer and remained comfortably warm for the fall season allowing for an early winter harvest of broccoli, peas, carrots, greens and other fall crops. The parsley, sage, thyme and mints continued to thrive throughout autumn. Kale pops up in the path prolifically where I let last winter’s crop to go to seed.
Winter has started slowly easing in with the same temperatures we enjoyed during the fall. No snow, but the rains returned finally. Christmas Eve and days surrounding it were warm reaching the 60s. We were able to sit comfortably around the firepit the night before Christmas sharing stories , drinking wine while opening a few gifts with our children. The moon was full, the first time since 1977, the next will be 2035 or something – we watched it as it travelled across the night sky.
As we come to end of 2015, the temperatures have dipped to where they should be. I take solace in knowing I was given the extra nice weather to prepare everything for winter. Fall had been personally tough for my family. A personal tragedy touched our family, forcing many things to have to take a back seat. The extra nice days served me well as I was able to tend to closing up our own garden and not freeze my hands off in the process. We had spent time in October and November closing up our clients’ gardens. – many of them pleasantly surprised at the elongated season and the growing potential they had harnessed.
Currently our 11 raised beds and 20+ containers, we are growing in 7 beds and probably about 10 containers a variety of lettuces, radishes, carrots, garlic, onions, shallots, spinach, broccoli and last of last season’s Brussels sprouts. Some beds are covered with a variety of cold frames, cloches or low hoops; the others simply have a thick layer of hay on top.
We just pulled in our Tower Garden a few days before the new year- two broccoli plants have started, so once we put the grow lights on it, we should be able to add other seed starts to it and enjoy more fresh veggies during winter 2016. The winter of 2016 will be here and we are ready for whatever it brings. The early stages will be filled with seed catalogs and dreams. Happy dreaming.