With some trepidation in case the snows fall and last until April, I do hope we will receive some snow this all too mild so far winter of 2015 and 2016. The snow that fell last year was mighty and plentiful. The occasional soreness in my back these days may be lingering from all the shoveling of paths, stairs and driveways last year. But we kept on shoveling and waiting for the great melt. Slowly the snow did melt and in 2015, I believe we were all the better for it.
As it relates to growing organic vegetables, flowers and herbs, the slowly melting snow is the best natural fertilizer a grower could hope for. There was less need to go to the well for water. The fields, with the rich healthy soil, was able to absorb and hold that water for to feed the plants. New seedlings that were being set in the ground were delighted. The terrific perennials were grateful for a lasting supply of water.
The snow also forced us inside a bit more. With the warm weather, mostly so far, the need to stay outside, spread mulch and complete unimpaired outdoor tasks is easier. I planted garlic as late as December 27th. I could turn the soil tomorrow and work some dirt under my all too clean fingernails. These days, the little plowed piles of snow have been washed away. Those who spend their weekends beating northbound traffic to make the most of a three day pass or to be first in line at the fairly traded hot cocoa stand have been greatly disappointed with the real snowfalls. Sure those who are proficient at making snow are providing enough pleasure for the downhill enthusiasts. But is there not a worrying trend that it has been too mild for too long?
After an hour with multiple forms of aging equipment, three farmers finally placed the snow plow on the Chevy pick-up truck. For most likely, it will snow and various local news channels will send out intrepid reporters to measure snow fall amounts in inches and feet and have drive-by interviews with plow drivers working overtime. And when and if it does snow, we will come inside (after shoveling) to complete the seed order, analyze the soil test results and study and revise crop plans of which rotated crops go into which rotated fields. And with a gentle snowfall outside, we will come together and spend some time in warmth.
Much is made of how rooting for a local football team brings everyone together for organic chips and salsa with craft beverages. But I vote for a snow storm to force us together for good conversation. Or perhaps we come in from the storm to read a book. We may gather together to watch together something less violent. Whatever your snow desire, we farmers need some of the white, cold fertilizer to fall when it is below 32 degrees. The confused, green garlic poking up from the ground needs to freeze and be covered by snow as well. So let it snow, let us turn towards the warmth and let nature bring in the seasonal temperatures. In the meanwhile, a blizzard could help us plan to walk behind a proper plough, so as to gently turn the endowed soil, and think of what peppers and tomatoes to grow for a new kind of salsa.
© 2016, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm