Homestead Update: Embracing the Cold
The winds have suddenly turned cold here on the farm. I feel like autumn came and went in a flash. There is a short period, I feel, in Iowa where the weather is the picture perfect idea of what autumn should be like. Cool in the mornings and evenings, beautifully sunny and pleasant in the afternoon. There’s a cool breeze and that gorgeous warm light that makes everything seem as if in a happy haze. The colors, the smells. It makes you feel so light and happy this time of year.
But the cold has come. Our nights are reaching into the 30s, and our flowers have officially perished from the frosts. I now have row covers over all of our autumn crops for added protection. I am thankful that we were able to purchase those because I think I may have been in trouble with those 28 degree nights!
Our time is being happily spent indoors most days. I am thankful for the colder weather so I can finally escape into blankets and hot cups of coffee. I am in a way longing for the break that winter brings for a farmer so that I can reinvigorate my love for growing and feel that desire to rejoin the the plants outside in the soil. For now, my overactive brain needs a rest, a revival. I want to read books again, one of my winter goals, and I want to plan for next year to correct the mistakes that I made this year. There are so many ideas tumbling around in my mind that I need the idleness of winter to sort them all out.
For autumn, we are growing a variety of vegetables that grow well in cold weather. Our field is currently filled with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards, lettuce, tatsoi, arugula, turnips, rutabagas, beets, radishes, carrots, scallions, kale, kohlrabi, and chard. I am loving the variety that we have right now! Autumn is definitely one of my favorite seasons to grow in because I love to eat these vegetables the most. Tomatoes have never been a favorite for me, though I do get excited growing them. Eating them? Not so much. But I can think of so many ways to eat a carrot! Our carrots have been spectacular this season as well.
What’s next for our homestead? Our Fall CSA season has begun, and we will be finished in just a few weeks, before Thanksgiving. The Country Store will have its Grand Opening in November, so our main focus is to finish up tasks in that area. Once the growing season is completely over, I’ll let them stay in the ground until the frost takes them. Then we will go through and clean up stalks a bit, apply any compost that we created this year from our own farm, and take out the aronia berries to prepare that portion of the field for next year. I am really excited about that. From then on, the chickens will lay eggs, and I will dream about purchasing next year’s seeds. As much I wish we were experimenting with growing through winter, it’s not going to happen this year. I had pictured us growing with a cold frame this winter; the shop was much more important. Next year I picture a row of cold frames under the set of windows facing our garden so that we may feed ourselves throughout the snowy months. How wonderful would that be? Fresh greens even in the dead of winter! Next year, for sure, it will happen.
What are your winter plans? Did you grow a garden this year, or are you dreaming of getting started next spring?