Both of our winter carrot varieties successfully overwintered this winter! We have seeded carrots for overwintering the past three winters; however, this is the first winter that they have overwintered so successfully. We trialed two varieties, our standard fall heirloom carrot (Red-Cored Chantenay) and a quick Nantes-style hybrid that is commonly used for overwintering (Napoli). They both survived at about the same rate. The Napoli carrots are so quick that we could go ahead and start picking them if we needed to. The Red-Core Chantenay carrots lack a little bit of color right now, but I think by the time we are picking carrots for your CSA shares (in a few weeks) that they will be ready, too. They both have very good flavor, although as can be expected the newer hybrid is sweeter (since that is one of the qualities most carrot breeders are looking for). Thank you to Andrea Webster (a new CSA member) and Libby Stancell (a longtime CSA member) for their leaves! Although they have mostly blown away now, they kept the carrots well-insulated and protected from winter winds.
Our bees overwintered, too! We have had a warm winter. Warm winters are not necessarily bad for bees. They suffer more in winters with a lot of fluctuation, particularly if it warms up for several weeks and then we have a long cold spell (like last winter). Today, as a way of celebrating Spring and because it was really getting to the now or never point, I opened up both hives from top to bottom to see how they faired over the winter. Our hives have been very different from the very beginning. One has always been much calmer than the other, which I call aggressive but Lalo likes to call active. Both hives had made their way into their top two boxes, the very top super being the last of their honey stores (the more active hive had a little more than the calmer hive) and the lower super being where they were now raising their brood. As they followed their honey stores over the winter, both hives had emptied out their bottom two boxes. That means it was time for a little rearranging. The more active hive was starting to draw comb on their hive cover, which always make me a little antsy (a hive which feels like it is running out of room this time of year is liable to swarm). So I moved the base of the hive back down to the bottom and put their empty boxes with frames of drawn comb on top. These boxes will now be ready for the spring nectar flow. I chose not to split either of the hives, although I may split the more active hive later in the season. I hope with two established hives we may be able to harvest some honey this summer, even if it is just a little bit for us. We should definitely have plenty of healthy pollinators flying around the farm this season!
Also, welcome back to Anna Laura Reeve, who has rejoined us after spending last year with her infant daughter, and welcome to Paul Adams, who will be working with us part-time this spring and summer. This will be the most working hands that we have ever had on the farm. We are looking forward to sharing the workload and also to not having to rush around so much. This should give us an opportunity to dedicate more time to our long-term sustainability goals, like seed saving, soil improvement, and education.