Broad Valley Orchard

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Winter Slowly Creeps Into Broad Valley

Hello Fellow Winter Gardeners,

I sit and watch storm clouds gather for a wintry mix day. We will probable not get enough snow to shovel, thus in keeping with my weather predicition that we did not get our first ‘shovel-able snow’ by December 1st. This increasing lateness of first snowfall supports our observations of observable changes in weather from the first half of our 25 year tenure here (when we could expect a 50% chance of snow by now) ; to this second half, when we now expect only have a 36% chance of seeing snow by December.

The outside late autumn work is done. We spent the last week cleaning up under the trees, and raking the orchard, then putting all the leaves in large wire composting bins. This late fall orchard sanitation is cirtical to growing tree fruit without resorting to deadly chemical sprays. The composting leaf piles will kill all the disease spores on the leaves, and also kill off overwintering insect larvae. When it does snow, voles will not be able to tunnel under, and use the orchard debris tobuild nests near the trunks, where they gnaw the trunk = they can girdle and kill trees! Next summer, the finished composted leaf mould, will be an important component of our compost, thus returning fertility to our soil.

Our fruit cellar, and root cellars are full for 8 more weeks of delivering to our winter CSA. The two high tunnel ‘hoop houses’ are planted with winter greens. Low tunnels, of ReMay, are installed over the raised beds in the hoop houses, and the greens grow in slow motion for the next 6 weeks, when the lengthening days will speed them up again.

As a farmer, who is ‘getting older’, I am also feeling this winter coming on. So this is the time of year that I too, “go dormant”, I am pleased that I have been able to share these weekly entries with you since spring, but I now have another writing project in the works, so I will only post occasional BVO Farm Journal entries until the lengthening days, and thawing soil revive me, too. I have really enjoyed sharing this challenging, but highly rewarding, farm year with you. I will, of course, write I notice any strange weather going on….

Thank You

thom marti

PS: I will be presenting a discussion on how to profitably grow fruit on a small farm, organically, at the PASA Conference Workshops on Thursday, February 7th, at State College,Pa. You can learn more about this mid-winter Sustainability event at

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