Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter Market II: Observations by Devorah Ketai, Our Winter Farmer

Growing produce for the winter market has been a cold-weather treat. Like any grower, I've become super alert to the temperatures and conditions outdoors. They determine the temperatures in the hoophouses and whether the plants need to be protected from the elements. On the other hand, that beautiful, protective layer of hoophouse plastic makes the increasingly cold temperatures seem much less daunting. I arrive at the farm knowing the high is only 45 degrees for the day, but I immediately shed my winter coat as I walk into the sun-warmed hoophouse--already 80 degrees by 10:00 a.m.!

Luscious and bountiful
I'm not the only one spoiled by this warm microclimate in the middle of December. The plants might not take off like they would in July, but they are certainly noticeably alive and active. Their obvious growth blows my mind right now, during the shortest days of the year. I take off for the weekend, wishing the little green babies well. When I return on Monday and make my rounds, all I can think is, "They've grown up so fast!" The arugula is a noticeable inch taller, and the radishes have obviously been eating well and increased their diameter a good quarter-inch. These are big steps when there are only nine hours of sunlight in the day!

I am so appreciative of these hoophouse microclimates for encouraging a bountiful winter harvest. They aren't heated or lit artificially, so all of the extra boosts are coming from the sun. The sun warms up the air and soil, speeding up cellular processes and growth. The sunlight, however short, is obviously enough to aid in their photosynthesis. It's great to think about these biological processes in the approaching dead-of-winter, when so much around us is becoming dormant. My trips to the hoophouses also keep me from becoming dormant. Rather than bundling up and fearing the cold, I say "I think I'll go outside and play today!"

See you Saturday, December 15th, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for the second winter market!

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