First Snow of the Year, Fall 2009
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 16:59

Hightunnel on the First Snow DayI'm always a little anxious looking ahead to the dark months of winter, but December has been nothing but nice with much to do! Friday, December 4 was our first snow fall and that was just one reason to celebrate December. While snow collected on the roof of the hightunnel, I harvested beets, swiss chard, baby spinach and baby kale. The winter harvests were going to a friend who contacted me looking for "ethically grown foods" and planned to make baby food with the beets and spinach, also, to a local restaurant and to friends who bought a $25 gift certificate that I had donated to another friend's fundraiser. The vegetables grown under the protection of theĀ  Agribon are significantly larger than the ones grown without the protective covering, and they were planted two days later. When we get around to building the supports to hold up the Agribon, all the beds will have it. It will come into use in the spring to raise the temperature of the soil and protect spring crops allowing us to plant even earlier. In the first photo, you can see where I moved the Agribon aside so I could harvest swiss chard. Those gorgeous green leaves veined with magenta are swiss chard, sister of the beet, lover of the soil. I read somewhere, and I can't remember where, that growing beets and swiss chard doesn't deplete, but leaves the soil with a substantial amount of nutrients.

Bed 4 Agribon RaisedMagenta Sunset Swiss Chard LeavesCut Swiss Chard Stems

Here are the sweet beets I wrote about last week. They were thinned early and the thinned greens were sold to a local restaurant and used in sautes. If they are thinned really early, at just a few weeks old, the small greens are a surprising and tasty addition to a salad. Beets are very sensitive to soil conditions and this is reflected in their flavor. Next spring when I grow beets, I may try what Eliot Coleman suggests and sprinkle just a light layer of Boron around each plant.

Beets in the hightunnelBeets and their greensBeets on the mulch

As snow softly fell on the roof, I worked in the dry tunnel. By the end of the afternoon, my coffee turned into a chilled latte and my hands were freezing. I know they put handles on coffee mugs for a reason, but I have this little quirk where I hold the mug without the handle. That's my favorite mug and because of my quirk, you can't see it's 3 neat-o turtles carved/painted on the sides. That is one of a set of two the Earthy Cowboy bought for us at the Susquehanna Trading Post. They are stoneware mugs by Mara.

One thing I kept thinking about as I worked was the pluses of harvesting vegetables in the cold - I don't have to rush to get the cut vegetables into the cooler or refrigerator, I can just set the bag aside and move on to the next harvest. It made me smile to think of it. Instead of sweating as I worked, my nose was cold and runny. Instead of dressing in a light sundress and braving the 95-100 degree hightunnel, I was bundled in a fleece vest, a flannel shirt, cordouroy pants and my hiking boots. I love the seasons and the change they bring.

The baby spinach is so sweet. The Earthy Cowboy agrees and thinks the stems taste like potatoes. I love the tender greens with red bell pepper slices and egg salad. What a good lunch that was. Those chips make for some excellent, though naughty, croutons.

Barn in the snowCoffee in the snowDecember SpinachSpinach and Egg Salad

Earlier in the week, we bought a Frasier Fir Christmas tree from a couple of local guys who sell Christmas trees in the parking lot of 3-B's icecream on Peter's Mountain Road. It was the first one we spotted as we approached the trees and came back to it as our favorite. The trees are grown on a tree farm in Danville, PA. That same day we bought 4 Christmas wreaths off Craigslist. They are wrapped in white lights, a red bow each and come with their own plastic clamshell container for storage. We hung 3 on the front porch and one on the back door, and you can see them all from the road. They light up much brighter than I expected. I love 'em!

Every year I get a few additional ornaments, mostly just glass bulbs in blue and silver. This year, I visited the Wildbird Garden and Gift Store with a 20%-off-everything-coupon and got these cuties. I'm going back next week for a painted ceramic cardinal ornament that I should have included with my coupon purchase.

Witch OrnamentAngel OrnamentMermaid Ornament

Cat Bell-OrnamentDragonfly OrnamentButterfly Ornament

Feeling that my tree is much too girly, I grabbed a set of 8 chocolate metallic glass bulbs, an earth tone thrown in the mix for the Earthy Cowboy, and this darling little copper bird perched on a pomegranate at Stauffers of Kissel Hill with my $10 holiday coupon. I bought those silver and blue holly/pine cone decorations there, too, and wrapped them around a branch. Anything that glitters...

Chocolate Metallic OrnamentBird on Pomegranate Ornament

Friends gave us this little stack of sparkly glass penguins. One of the gifts is wrapped in the human rights flag. Next to that, the wreath was tied to another present one year, I think one that my mom gave us. I love gift accessories! The polar bear I bought when I was in Alaska in August 2006. And last year, I found our tree-topper, this here star that highlights the cobwebs on my ceiling. And look, it's me!

Penguin-Human Rights OrnamentWreath OrnamentAlaska OrnamentStar of the TreeMe in the tree

Here are two we found on an ornament display at the Pottery Barn in Lancater. It adds a bit of rain forest flair, don't ya think? I really like that they have pink lips.

Turtle OrnamentFrog Ornament

Here's Bodhi, watching the birds do what they do after a snow fall. Warm wishes for a happy holiday season from all of us! xo

Bodhi in the window