Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mild Winter, so far!

I'm pretty happy with our winter weather so far. It seems odd that so far, our biggest snowfall was in October. Snow is not good on the greenhouse, of course. Turning the heat on melts the snow off and it accumulates on the sides. We have to shovel that snow away, since the buildup of snow could eventually cause the sides to collapse. So less snow means less shoveling, which suits us. Since having the greenhouses, I have noticed that the majority of snowfalls occur overnight.

I also enjoyed the snow fog after the recent snowfall. Everything is quiet, white and kind of mysterious. I remember snow fog growing up in Mt. Gretna - perhaps because of the trees. Our back corner of the yard is still very wet. Will it ever dry out? When it gets cold, the standing water freezes and I can see all types of interesting things trapped in the ice. All sorts of leaves and twigs and frosted blades of grass frozen there in a kind of life-sized snow globe effect.

The relatively mild weather really has me thinking of spring and I'm seeing signs throughout the yard. Our witch hazel has bloomed with its tiny yellow and red flowers in January, several weeks earlier than its typical February bloom. Both the star magnolia and pussy willow have big, fat buds. I'm surprised at how much is green in the gardens. Pretty little salad burnet has not died off and there's still green parsley, cutting celery and chamomile. There's new green shoots of chives and new growth on bronze fennel, poppies, snapdragons, and reseeded cornflowers which never died off. All the outdoor rosemarys have survived up to this point. I always tell people to let cilantro reseed when it flowers to get a second crop as the weather cools off. With all the rain, I had a bumper crop in the fall. With the mild weather, it produced through December, and even now has some good green growth. All of this is soothing when I get antsy for spring.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Winter Break" at Cloverleaf

I'm back after a nice holiday break. Hope you all enjoyed your holidays. We had two very good holiday meals - one rather long and hectic and the second more subdued and relaxed. Very good food both times.

Thanks to all who came out for our Open House and throughout the holiday season. It was a good season for the business and overall a successful year. With the weather and the economy both on the poor side, I consider that quite an accomplishment.

And, believe it or not, I've started work for the spring season. Planted pansy seeds right after Christmas and after New Year's stared a batch of early perennials like cornflower, blue flax and "Lady" lavender. This is the only variety of lavender I start from seed. It is just amazing to me that the tiny seedlings in the little pack have as much aroma as a full-sized lavender plant! What a treat on a cold winter's day to enjoy the fragrance of fresh lavender.

John and I always laugh that January is our slow time. Not much work yet here at the farm and his busy time at work doesn't start for about a month. Once February comes, supplies arrive, there are seeds to start every week and we begin to gear up the greenhouse for spring.

Lots of the work now is cozy, indoor stuff - end of year routine, preparing orders for spring, etc. which leaves time for other things - like making bread. I love to make bread. First of all I love to eat it. Also, there's something very elemental about making bread plus I absolutely love the smell of yeast. I don't know why, but that smell ranks right up there for me along with my favorite herbal and floral scents. I make all kinds of bread. This week was honey wheat toasting bread. Most breads that are good for toasting have wheat germ in them. Also make a pesto bread, cinnamon (yummy with coffee), seeded bread with seeds and dried minced onions on top, and also found a new recipe that incorporates mashed butternut squash in the dough.

The other thing we accomplished was painting our basement. This was the first step in the refurbishment due to last fall's flooding. Next we'll have new flooring installed. We don't have to do that work - just pay for it!