Winter Week 4 from Valley Flora!

  • Red Beets - our sweetest storage beet
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli - starting to send up shoots in the field, more to come!
  • Green Savoy-ish Cabbage - an overwintering variety that straddles the line between crinkly savoy and smooth green
  • Winter Greens Mix - a full pound of mixed greens from our greenhouse
  • Micro Mix - heavy on the radish micro, combined with our micro mesclun mix (micro mizuna, broccoli, arugula, kale)
  • Yellow Onions
  • Spring Raab
  • Tetsukabotu Winter Squash - our best-keeping winter squash, a Hubbard type
  • Collard Greens - tender new growth from our overwintered planting


Twenty-four degrees here this morning! I guess winter isn't over after all (and I'm outspokenly glad for that: bring on the howling wind and rain and give us a solid mountain snowpack to help see our state through this next summer)! We did our best to hedge against frozen pipes and frost-nuked plants yesterday, so fingers crossed all is well as things slowly thaw out today. 

This week marks the official kick-off of our weekly spring greenhouse seedings for outdoor plantings, which start in earnest in late March for us. Weather permitting, we always gamble on some earlier plantings (for instance, I seeded snap peas, carrots, beets and spinach outside two weeks ago during that spooky dry spell, knowing full well that they might perish in inclement weather...but always worth a try!). This week, however, the greenhouse starts to swell with trays of lettuce, kale, chard, fennel, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi and lots of other early crops that we transplant outside starting in late March. From that point on, we're transplanting into the field every single week of the season through October. 

That's not to say the greenhouse has been empty up to this point. Two weeks ago we seeded all our Allia - onions, shallots, leeks - which is the largest seeding of the year for us. They are slowly, bravely, germinating. We've got trays of lettuce ready for transplanting into our field greenhouses and early zucchini seedlings that are tucked carefully under row cover staying warm on the heat table until this cold snap passes. And every week we're seeding trays of peas, radish, and mesclun for micro and shoot production. Our propagation greenhouse is the epicenter of life in early spring, and one of my favorite places on the farm.

We made a major, long-desired change this year by switching from using bagged potting mix to buying bulk totes of a custom mix made specifically for us by a soil company in Canby. Due to supply chain issues, I couldn't source my usual brand through B&B in Langlois, and the few bags that were available were 3 times more expensive than usual. I was scrambling to figure out an alternative with our spring seeding season fast approaching when some friends who own a large wholesale nursery suggested Philips Soil Company. I worked with the soil guru at Philips to develop a recipe that would hopefully meet our needs and nervously placed an order for 10 cubic yards. Why nervous? I've had bad - even catastrophic - results when I've experimented with other potting soils in the past and was concerned we might see similar problems with the new mix. But without any obvious alternatives - and lured by the fact that I could buy it in bulk totes, and the fact that Philips has a good reputation with lots of growers - I took a leap of faith. The next hurdle was how the heck to unload four 1500-pound pallets off the back of the freight truck with no forklift. With the help of a lift gate, a pallet jack, some sheets of plywood, and a lot of strategizing, the freight driver and I managed to channel our inner oxen and get them off the truck and under cover - just barely. Then there was a breathless, anxious couple of weeks while we waited to see how our newly-sowed seeds would perform in the new growth medium. So far I am cautiously optimistic and our seedlings seem to be popping like they should. Fingers crossed that this is a new long-term solution t0 my plastic potting soil bag guilt (we used to buy 3 pallets of bagged potting soil which equalled 120 plastic bags into the landfill each year. It burned a hole in my soul.).

Stay warm these next few days and enjoy your veggies!