What Keeps Farmers Busy in the Winter?

| 12/30/2013 7:48:00 AM

Tags: seasonal projects, winter gardening, Maryland, Ilene White Freedman,

Seed Catalog

There is a myth that farmers only work during the growing season. That we have nothing to do in the wintertime but vacation, tinker, make crafts and read books. Certainly, on our organic vegetable farm, we are busiest during spring planting and summer harvests. But winter is the time to get everything else done.

Winter is farm cleanup time. Clear the rows of hoops and dirt bags, the supplies that keep row covers over the crops. We pile up the hoop and dirt bags at the top of the row on pallets. The pallets can be scooped up on the tractor forks and driven to a storage spot. Mulch the blueberries. Tuck the fig tree under some protective mulch for the winter. We put things away that were set amiss during busier times. Haul the recyclables. Stack tomato trellis panels. Mow the field perimeter. Pull up rows of landscape fabric and reroll it, ready to use for weed control in the fresh spring rows. Organize the barn.

Winter is project time. Build more hoophouse benches for seedling trays. Build an arbor for the hardy kiwi vines. Build new herb garden beds. Work on the solar panel project. Fix the tractors, replace wearing blades. Have a baby.

Yes, we even coordinated our children’s births with the “off-season." Not because we are that organized, but mainly because my husband got a nervous twitch when he thought about a spring baby. There was a window of opportunity, you might say. Our sons were born in January and October. It is not a coincidence.

Winter is fix-it time. Fix the driveway, order gravel dump loads. Rebuild broken wood crates. The bathroom back-splash project.

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