Saturday, December 17, 2011


After reading the Good Life and The Winter Harvest Handbook.  

  Susie and I took a trip to Maine to check out the home of Helen and Scott.  Only fine out that the four season farm was just a mile down road.  The four season farm is home of Eleot Coleman who wrote the Winter harvest handbook.

Eliot and Barbara’s Four Season Farm in Harborside Maine is a fantastic example of how to grow vegetables. Not only how to grow them, but to grow them year-round. The trick is not heated green houses or large buildings with grow lights, it is finding the right vegetable to grow in the right season, and eating seasonally.

Only one of the greenhouses was heated. It had a wood stove and a washing station, so that the workers could scrub the lettuce and carrots for market and still keep their fingers warm. The other greenhouses—those with the leeks, the spinach, the candy carrots—were all insulated, but none had heat. They simply relied on a double layer of plastic, with a few inches of air trapped in between, to soak up what radiance they could from the day.

The land was amazing—part of the original Nearing Farm, that Helen and Scott and the back-to-the-landers so revered in the 50s and 60s. Eliot bought a piece and cleared it himself, and today it's a year round commercial farm. He and Barbara sell to local grocers and schools, and in the summer operate an out-of-the-way farm stand. They have interns coming and going, learning their ways of coaxing the land into production come snowfall or hail or rain.

There is certainly a lot to learn, what with tools and techniques and selecting seeds. Luckily, for those of us who can't spend a year on the land, they've written book upon book to inspire. The Winter Harvest Manual and Four Season Harvest  are both very good; they help with picking out spinach and raddicchio and radishes and other winter hardy plants, and how to best cover the plants. They span a wide ability range, too, from novice to accomplished hand.

So this was the inspiration for our little hoop house that extends our growing season into the first of the year and kick starts the growing season into early march.  This weekend we harvested lots of fresh greens even though we had a light snow last night.   Just living the good life.

Here's an up date on the Family Tradition post from last October:   The research being done on the sand prairie was a herpetology study on what amphibians and reptiles are living in the sand prairie and what type of cover they preferred.

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