Happy New Year! January 1st always feels like the halfway point of winter to me, even though I know it really isn't. Maybe it's putting all the holiday busyness behind and anticipating all the seedling starts beginning next month already that seems to cut the cold months a little shorter. Regardless, I believe gardening is the best antidote to a long winter.
Instead of a long, dreary season here in Northern Alberta, it’s a welcome chance to reflect on what worked well – or didn’t. I love having that break to rest and reset; review garden notes, make adjustments, research new methods to address previous challenges, and learn from other market gardeners leading the way in organic innovation.
A couple great growers resources I've been really enjoying are Richard Perkins Regenerative Farming and Pam Dawlings Sustainable Market Farming. Both are phenomenal, and at any given time you can find them and a stack of notes tucked on a kitchen island or couch just waiting for a few more minutes to dive back in.
It’s also the time of year for one of my favourite things, the new release of seed catalogues. I love combing through each one, jotting notes, picking new varieties, finding back old favourites, comparing prices and maturity dates and planning out the next years gardens. Previous winners we’ve added to our line up have been the vibrant purple Graffiti cauliflower, and Hakurei mini salad turnips, as well as just pinning down some great varieties with excellent flavour, that also grow well here with our temps and season length. This years trials will include some decorative pumpkins, Romanesco (broccoli/cauliflower cross that grows in beautiful fractals), different greens to maximize what we can offer in the early spring (purslane, claytonia Miners Lettuce, tatsoi, corn salad), very early season carrots, European gherkin style pickling cucumbers, and much more.
Another focus in these off-season months has been marketing our vegetable farm. As we shift our oversized hobby garden into a full-fledged market garden with an extended season and a variety of vegetable offerings, we have been researching the best way to get our vegetables to you while being efficient with time and resources. As you know by now we have our website open to take CSA bookings until Feb 1, 2021 (last month to book!), and ready to function as an online store for weekly vegetable and egg pre-orders in the spring. Stay tuned as we work to flush out the little details of what that exactly looks like, and stay in touch if you have suggestions or questions for us along the way.
Hope you are all well, and here's to a great 2021!