What do you do in winter?

little_minnie(zone 4a)January 2, 2014

I know this doesn't apply to everyone but I only work two days per week all year 'round. Then from April to late November I garden/market about 40 hours per week. So this time of year I don't have much to do from Tuesday-Friday. LOL. What do you other farmers do in winter?

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myfamilysfarm

Play games and sleep. I look for more recipes for my jams and jellies. Check out different spaces for seeds, but only in Jan before I order.

Most of the time, just enjoy life before all the work start. I will be starting some seeds for early planting or bigger plants.

Marla

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 2:40PM
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tulsacityfarmer(6)

I also work two days a week, two 16hr days. But I always have things to do when the weather permits and sometimes when it does not. Like the ice storm that had my neighbors trees on my fences, doing damage!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:53PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I teach school and keep on growing and selling.

I also try to finish up projects from the summer and get ready for the next year.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 4:35PM
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randy41_1

i keep growing and selling but its not full time. i'm also a cpa and tax season is starting soon. meanwhile i'm planning this years growing season and building a building for goats/chickens. and relaxing.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 5:50PM
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brookw_gw

School keeps me really busy, but I still do farm work. Deer season takes priority till we get the freezer full. Right now, I'm taking inventory of all seeds, tools, etc.and am searching catalogs and websites, placing orders for this year. It's a great time to clean up, oil, and sharpen all hand tools. This week I cleaned up the basement and organized all the baskets, bags, boxes, etc. associated w/the farm. It gets chaotic during the growing season, so it's nice to be able to find stuff when I need it.

At the farm, I enjoy cutting wood and am still working on the doze pile from the pond construction. Of course, we enjoy sitting around the fire from all that cutting. Additionally, I'm creating fish structures out of pallets and old tires that I haul out on the ice that sink when it thaws. I'm also cleaning up the north side of our pond so we can access it better and am looking at planting some trees and ornamentals there for the spring. Since I'm adding another 200 ft of blackberries, I need to clear some brush so I can drive around the south side of my property. I'm also putting the finishing touches on journals and records and documenting successes and failures of the year. I also consult w/customers on what they want for the coming year. If time permits, I'll also work on some gourds. I sand and paint them or make bird or toad houses. We are also doing a lot of research on the building we hope to put up this summer. If we get enough ice, I'll ice fish. Finally, we do a lot of birdwatching. We have a large feeding area in the park that overlooks the pond. We go through a lot of seed and suet this time of year, but we really enjoy it.

Oh, we normally sell winter squashes, apples, Asian pear,sweet potatoes, and frozen berries till they run out. Last year, we sold out in late March. This year, we had total crop failure, so I'm down to just a bushel of sweet potatoes. Winter is also the time we make jams, jellies, and juice from all our leftover frozen fruit. I also seem to cook and eat a lot in winter.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 12:10PM
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gama_garden_tx(9)

We have our market 52 weeks, and this is our most profitable time of year...so growing and selling year around. However during our slower months (June-August), I usually focus the majority of my energy on the marketing side. I'll make better signage, search for or make a better display, etc. Also, when it is slower, it is a great time to catch up on accounting, reviewing sales and analyzing which varieties to change or remove from production. Researching health benefits of herbs, veggies, and fruit, and creating material for that is good too. Mostly, I focus on the business side of the operation and how to improve it over last year.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:37PM
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Matt139

Winter is the best time to sit down, and plan and prepare for next year. Also clear and prepare land, and split firewood! Maybe even rest a little.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 11:20AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I run a CSA through January plus have a few other accounts we supply most of the winter but we do close the farm store in December. We used to do farmers markets in the winter but have found we make more money getting people to come to the store with orders.

We do a lot of planning in winter, where things will go in the garden, what markets to do, what kind of advertising to do, looking into becoming an LLC (probably will have that done by the end of the month) seed ordering and seed starting and new this year planting the high tunnel.

Also because we put a high tunnel up when we should have been cleaning up beds in November, that is being done in Jan on days when it is warm. Oh, and soil amendments such as sulfur and compost are being applied right now.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 3:43AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I just want to point out that here we are under lots of snow all winter. Nothing can really be done outside until late March.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:22PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Just started planting for the 2014 season. I seeded 8 rows of carrots today. I will try to get the next planting in a few weeks, if the weather is good. Carrot sales have been really picking up in the last year and I decided why fight growing what doesn't sell and start producing more of what people want to buy. Planning on trying to succession plant carrots all year this year. Maybe different size plantings, (depending on time of the growing season) but people were asking if we would have them after we ran out last season. I missed out on lots of sales.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 10:59PM
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myfamilysfarm

Jay, around here, you can't get fresh carrots. If you notice freshly grown carrots smell different than those cellophaned carrots. We were able to get some late in the season, when the grubs started to attack the vendors crop, we knew we could cut around the bad spots.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:07AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Do people not grow carrots? or is it because of pests? Since we started to grow carrots, we will never buy carrots again. If we don't grow them, then we just don't eat carrots. The flavor and taste is amazing compared to the orange sticks that you buy at the store, and I use to like carrots. Now they are field snacks when I am out working.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:13PM
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myfamilysfarm

Most vendors, around here, don't grow them. People weren't willing to pay more for the carrots, versus those orange sticks. There is alot of work involved and I totally understand. Our ground isn't accommodating to root crops unless the root crops are large.

At my now market, there is only 1 person growing them.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:26PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

A couple other vendors at my market grow carrots but sell them top off and not fresh. I sell rainbow carrot in water with the top on. I like to do stuff slightly different to offer a selection.
The organic whole carrots from the store are quite tasty actually.
Not even time to start seeds inside here. Still bored. Better work on uploading to my ipod or reading some books LOL. Sunday I sent out my CSA info for the year to last's year's subscribers. I will send to the interested list next and then update my local harvest page.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:57PM
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dirtdigging101(7 - NC)

I build bikes for retail stores 7 days a week beginning the monday before thanksgiving usually build 35 a day

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:37PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

We dig ours fresh before each market and break off the tops, run through our carrot washer and bag them. Leaving the tops on takes up so much space to haul to market and space on the tables and space in the cooler. That is why we do our the way we do it. Also, we can dig earlier in the week and store them that way we are rushed to harvest everything at once. When sales are good, we try to harvest 50-75 lbs a week.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 9:58PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

we grow them but had a major failure this last fall-around 95% were eaten by slugs as soon as they emerged and while some were able to grow the tops back they have not sized up at all. I really miss the carrots and no one else around here grows them. We have been growing a 5 color mix which has been very popular for the past 6 year or so.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:28AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I just realized I Hi-jacked this post with carrot talk, sorry. I will start a new one.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:08PM
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rustico_2009

Pine away for rain. California is always a drier state but we are in a drought so far this winter. It's not just the irrigation, the 6% humidity is a challenge for seed starting in the field.

I had taken a break from even hobby gardening but recently got my mojo back. I sold my flock of 100 chicken, which was the main thing that was kicking my butt.

This is prime time for harvesting, transplanting and starting greens, root vegetables and brassicas. I am just starting them for spring along with nightshades. Planting short day onion transplants and seeding intermediate day onions. Would be weeding shallots leeks and garlic but didn't plant any this year unfortunately. Putting up a few trellises. Give blackberries a final prune and arrangement on the trellis and feed with compost because they are breaking dormancy now.

Also Clearing out weeds and old plant stubble.building beds and manuring/composting them for spring/warm weather crops. Trapping rodents. I have the whole acre irrigated on gravity now...that will save a few hundred a year by bypassing the 2HP booster pump that serves the house. Less worries about a breakdown in a heatwave.

Working on cold frames.

Need to rotate/buy seeds.

I am also studying how to carry out a CSA, putting sample documents together...just in case....

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:06PM
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sundacks(4a)

Very cold here - I'm working up the gumption to go knock the snow off the hoophouse.
I don't do much in the winter. I look at it as a time to regroup and regenerate. Lots of thinking, reading , organizing, planning. I get the books sorted out to give to the accountant (always get behind on this during the growing season), and I'm painting our downstairs interior one wall at a time. Ans I just finished designing a new market banner that came out pretty well, IMHO.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:46PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

It seems it takes me all winter to catch up. I did make Christmas wreaths again this year. Clean and power wash all the greenhouses. Sort out all the flats and pots people give me to re use, and all the plug trays. Order seeds in time for preseason discounts. Double check my seed spreadsheets to make sure I don't have things I'm out of when it's time to plant. Planted the first flower seeds 1/5. So not much time after Christmas off. We ordered some new greenhouse benches and have just gotten those put together. Clean the house that doesn't get cleaned all summer, we just stay outside except to shower/sleep...lol

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Prairie_Sima(4a)

In my area winter starts early, and last very long. No gardening of any kind going on in winter. So, from October to February (that is when we start heating our greenhouse) is my down time. I am generating new ideas how to beat competition (lol), shopping for seeds & supplies, writing blog, learning about nutrition, studying native medicinal herbs and plants, researching videos of other peoples greenhouses for ideas, browsing GardenWeb.
But have to say... Early January cabin fever kicks in really bad. Anticipation to get out and get dirty powerful. That is when bad things happen - even more seeds get bought, more trees get ordered...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:20PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)
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