With still no plans to go to Florida for the winter, all is busy for the farmer and teacher at the Farm and in the garden. Even though monumental climate accords have been reached in Paris, there is plenty of warm, decent, working weather here on the South Shore to finish up tasks and tighten up for the long winter, whenever it decides to rear its cold, snowy head.
The hardy greens continue to be prolific in production. These chard, leek, mustard green and kale plants in particular are thriving in the cool nights and warm days. Started by seed in March and April, transplanted to the ground in May and June, these plants, if cultivated and harvested correctly will continue to produce new leaves. When the farmer harvests a large leaf for market, then the sun shines down on the smaller, younger leaf and allows for growth.
The window of time for planting garlic began to open in late October, with folks coming in droves to our garlic workshop, roasting and planting. Garlic can still be heeled in, as long as the soil can be worked and as there is still time for the roots to grow, spread and establish themselves before the frost settles in. Even early green growth on the garlic is ok, as it will continue its growth after the winter.
When the tide, the wind and the new moon come in, there will be seaweed again on the shores and at water’s edge for an ideal, nutrient-rich mulch and soil enhancer. The kelp is a wonderful amendment for slow decomposition. The lumber yard in Marshfield still has fresh-cut pine boards, so we are building four new garden beds at Wellspring in Hull.
There, long-lasting, staple crops can be planted in spring (garlic now) and the Food Pantry at Wellspring can have organically grown crops at the ready, in addition to what the teenagers at the Farm harvest and bring in the summer months.
The newly fixed old John Deere tractor, complete with bucket, is making its way to the compost area to turn and mix piles. Restaurants and coffee shops, some home owners too, can supply plenty of vegetable food scraps, along with the four-legged residents’ manure at the Farm.
The spinach in the high tunnel hoop house is established and will continue to produce healthy green leaves for salad. The nearby tree work yielded a large pile of wood chips at the Farm to spread on paths so visitors to the garden know where to walk. The chips can be directed to fall where they may so as to also prevent weeds from becoming established.
The blueberry patch is receiving some extra attention to rid the area of its weeds, so that 2016 may be the year of enough juicy fruit for birds and two-legged farmers who daily pass by the patch.
The large bags of Vermont soil are due this week, so they can sit idly by for the next few months until the bags are strung open and lured into trays for the seeds of late February and March. And the plans need to be made for which crops, grown and maintained by whom, can be decided on for their 2016 location. The tomatoes will be in a different field, based on the notion that the farmers will stay ahead of possible pests and diseases, as well as let new soil provide the nutrients needed for next year’s crop. The time for rest and reflection are brief as the farming has many iterations and orchestral movements that keep us quite engaged and harmonic.
The songs and the scene though, indicate that it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Swags of pine and holly rest on the Farm House door and barn, perhaps the prettiest site to see. We are fairly obliged, as Holly Hill Farm does host the northern most area for wild holly. And to also borrow from the song, I would rather stick with holly, than “the pistol that shoots, [so] hoped by Barney and Ben”. Perhaps the boys in the song can think beyond the male stereotype of playing with guns, as there are plenty of other activities which may excite kids and adults. One may come to the Farm to help with all these tasks, read a good book, or enjoy the season with other hopes and dreams.
© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm