My mind wanders as I look at the snow – peaceful, falling softly, blanketing everything with its beauty. My thoughts go back to December 2001 – very cold, lots of snow, an unheated barn and a barely heated greenhouse.
We had just begun our herb business and we were learning about farming in the winter. With no other place to work we chose an old barn with a broken furnace to start our seedlings. We worked tirelessly, planting basil, sage, thyme, huddling close to the space heater. We then warmed up the old station wagon and backed it up to the barn to take the trays to the greenhouse. The cold winter wind was whipping and the snow was falling, but we weren’t concerned. Much later we realized that many of the seeds had likely blown away before we even reached the greenhouse.
That winter was a very steep learning curve. Figuring out how to keep the seedlings warm, when to water, when to fertilize, which time of year to start some of the seeds and which time of the year was best for others. I am not certain how we would have managed without the many herb books and our frequent internet searches.
The biggest challenge we faced was being ‘pioneers’ in growing herbs this way. In a greenhouse, expensive to heat, with no one to talk to about the many things we didn’t know. We stumbled upon so many answers, usually just before despairing, and kept a lot of notes.
Every year, when the snow begins, I remember our first winter and realize how quickly the past 12 years have flown by. I also realize that even though they haven’t all been easy, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve experienced for anything.