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Winter garden

A cat amid the carrots.
A cat amid the carrots. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Winter weather is here and we welcome it. Though we miss seeing you at the farmers markets, we admit it’s nice to have the extra hours around the farm.

Days are so short and the temperature is low, the garden is practically an outdoor cooler, the vegetables seem to be suspended in time. It’s a neat picture, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, beets, leeks and kale all in long rows taking the abuse of rain, wind, and frost but still prevailing. The vast majority of fields are planted in cover crop and slowly but surely it fills the field with a sea of mixed greens.

If you planted your winter gardens and cover crop a bit late, you may see little signs of growth and feel your green thumb has turned brown.  Most likely you can get different results in the future if you start sooner in the season. When you’re busy with the booming summer garden and all the tasks and bounty it entails, take time to plan and perhaps start seedlings for your winter garden.

For more information about winter gardens, we recommend books by Elliot Coleman (fourseasonfarm.com). Located in Maine, Coleman is known for his skills and techniques of year-round gardening without any use of supplementary heat.

A purple cabbage.
A purple cabbage. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Other things we (and you can) do in winter to prepare you for spring:

• Dormant spray your orchard

• Rake leaves and work your compost

• Review the season as a whole (note successes and failures) 

• Research seed catalogs

• Figure out a crop rotation so each vegetable will be planted in a different spot from last season

• Make infrastructure improvements

• Bundle up your water pipe lines and tender perennials to protect them from hard freezes

• Plant some bulbs for early spring color

• Can or preserve any remaining abundance (think applesauce, apple butter and so much more)

• Order some winter reading material (Acres U.S.A Books puts out a great catalog to choose from)

• Plant some trees — their roots will love all the winter rains

• Create a wish list (include tools, clothing, boots, building materials, supplies and equipment)

• Cook, celebrate and cherish the foods we eat and the family and friends we eat with 

The winter garden.
The winter garden. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Here at Ocean Air Farms we are constantly learning and experimenting in winter gardening and luckily this year it’s paying off. As mentioned above, the prevailing winter veggies look great in the field and we’re finding more ways to get them to you.

We’re offering a once-a-month bulk-buy opportunity direct from the farm. Get on our mailing list by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and we’ll send you the monthly order form.  Simply identify what you want and how much you want and we’ll harvest and pack your order just for you. The next opportunity will be in the first part of January. You can also reserve your 2013 CSA (community supported agriculture) shares now. Email us, or find us on Facebook

Local restaurants Vita Cucina, Northwoods, and the Historic Requa Inn continue to support the farm, incorporating Ocean Air’s produce into their menus. If you need a night out, dine at one of these businesses and thank them for their support of local agriculture.  

We are thrilled to announce the opening of a new grocery store in town. The Wild Rivers Market (formally Harvest Natural Food) new location will be behind Denny’s next to Sun Seekers and will have an increased capacity to carry farm-fresh produce.

We are excited to expand the selection of Ocean Air’s nutritionally dense vegetables available to you seven days a week. There’s lot’s of work involved to make this transition, and it will take time, but the opportunity will be like no other in the county.

Start the new year off right, make it a point to take full advantage of this wonderful new addition to our community.

From your farmers here in Fort Dick, we wish you all very happy, healthy holidays and a joyous new year.

Del Norte Gardening runs monthly. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick. Have a question or suggestion? Email it to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and it may be addressed in a future column.


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