Broad Valley Orchard

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Winter – Where Art Thou??

Today is warm, and soon will be wet. We still have kohlrabi, turnips, cabbage, daikon radish, and Brussel sprouts happily growing in the lower garden, with no row covers. We just harvested our first great crop of rutabagas and were amazed at their sweet taste!
I have kept autumn frost and snow records for 26 years now. We used to expect a killing frost by late October – we have not had one yet. In fact, I can look back in my mid-1980s journal and see that we often had snow on the ground by now.
I have been watching with interest a few clusters of apple blossoms which opened in late September, were fertilized by bees, and have now grown to walnut size. I’ll really start worrying if they ripen and I pick them in the early spring.
I feel like I have been teleported to the southern edge of the Appalachians in South Carolina. Oh well, I guess it is my duty, as a farmer, to grow what I can in the climatic hand that I have been dealt.
Needless to say, our CSA-Xtended members are the beneficiaries of this topsy-turvy weather. We are in week 4 of extended season, with 9 (or more) to go. Our fruit, and our root cellars have a good supply laid in, and the two hoop houses are full of greens and root crops for holiday harvest. We just got a call from our friends, Matt and Jenn, who run the Dickinson College Farm, 20 miles away in Boiling Springs; they have had a bumper carrot crop.
Now, up here on our billion year old volcanic mountain, our channery silt loam soil grows great fruit, and quite good vegetables. But their limestone derived bottom land soil can really grow wonderous root crops. M & J gave us a call that they had bulk carrots for sale, and we re-broadcast the call to our CSA members, who go in on large orders.
Soon, I’ll drive over to pick-up several bushels of carrots, for our member’s root cellars and juicing. This kind of small farm cooperation gives our ‘collective’ of a dozen farms (from 1 to 5 acres each) greater diversity in sales. I highly recommend such cooperation between other cluster of small organic and CNG farms.
This co-op effort also helps shield us all from the effects of crop failure in this changing climate. We do find, though, that our small farms are more adaptable in modifying our growing techniques in the face of topsy-turvy weather.

Thank You

Thom Marti

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