Well, folks--we've made it! No, winter's not over yet. Though we did have a nice January thaw, the searing cold seems to have returned. But what's gone for good--or at least another ten months or so--are the ultra-short deep winter days of December and January. The light is beginning to linger in the evenings, just a little, and we're approaching one of the eight turning points of the calendar year: the day half-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, the day the ancient Celts called Imbolc. (Never heard of it? Check out this Wikipedia article. In America, we celebrate a much diminished version of this holiday as Groundhog Day.)
While many gardeners and farmers take the months of December and January off from all garden labor, Imbolc marks the dawn of the new season. It's an ideal time to emerge from winter slumber and prepare for the coming months of warmth and light. Here at Seedy Farm, we'll return to the greenhouse after this day, cleaning and preparing space for the seedlings that will fill the space from late February onward. We'll also plant some hardy crops directly in the soil of our hoophouse: according to Eliot Coleman, Imbolc marks the approximate date when the days are long enough to permit plant growth in sun-heated protected spaces. We'll quickly see renewed growth of our overwintered spinach, lettuce, kale, and mustard greens after Imbolc, and we'll find that with each passing day the pace of our farm work increases as the earliest signs of spring appear. (It's also now possible to begin pruning trees and shrubs for indoor forcing; see this article at Fine Gardening for a great how-to.)
Imbolc also marks the beginning of our busy season. We'll be returning to markets in February, and our online sales increase in number. We're well equipped to handle the rush, and most orders are now shipping within 48 hours of receipt. We're working hard to clear up the backorders we do have, and we're doing our best to ensure that few--if any--additional backorders materialize this season. We're also anticipating a few more items--including a few late-arrival seed varieties--in the catalog this season, so if you'd like to stay in the loop, be sure to sign up for our e-mail list through the form at the bottom of the left-hand column.
Happy Imbolc, folks! Have any ways you like to celebrate? Share in the comments below!