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Clara's Corner

Clara Coleman, is a second-generation American organic farmer, consultant and speaker on four-season farming techniques and daughter of renowned farming pioneer Eliot Coleman. For three years, she created and operated a successful intensive 2-acre vegetable farm known as Divide Creek Farm located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. 

 

Clara's experiences also include farm consulting for Wegmans Food Markets on their organic farm in upstate New York. Currently she resides in Portland, Maine with her two sons and is focused on four-season farm consulting and speaking engagements nationwide as a means to inspire and encourage the next generation of farmers.

 

Subscribe to Clara's Corner and receive her expert advice on four-season farming in a moveable high tunnel greenhouse. 

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Attending Winter Conferences on Agriculture

As fall crops are harvested and stored, and fresh winter crops are carefully tended in high tunnels for an extended year-round harvest in the Northeast, many farmers and gardeners are eagerly anticipating the winter conference season. Numerous agricultural conferences are held during the winter months when most farmers have more time to gather, learn and assimilate the abundance of farming information available at these conferences.

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Transitioning the High Tunnel to Fall/Winter Crops

September is in full swing in the Northeast – the mornings feel fresh and crisp, the days are still sunny and warm, and those glorious heirloom tomatoes are still sweet and juicy, but the nights are undeniably cooler and the daylight hours are lessening by a few minutes each day. Sadly, the dog days of summer are over and winter is just around the corner.

Efficient Layout, Bed Preparation and Crop Selection for High Tunnels

Adding a high tunnel or greenhouse to your commercial farm or home garden is a considerable investment and in order to quickly maximize your return, the growing space should be efficiently managed both in terms of high tunnel bed layout, bed preparation techniques, and crop selection. The total growing area square footage of a high tunnel is the measurement of the width multiplied by its length and most often, at least 30% of that will be allocated to paths or walkways, so it is especially important to create an efficient bed layout to maximize the use of the interior growing space.

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Benefits of a Dedicated Seed Starting Greenhouse

Spindly, leggy tomato transplants and bushy, overgrown lettuce seedlings reaching for light and competing for space on a kitchen counter or near a bedroom window are all too common occurrences for new and small-scale farmers and gardeners this time of year. Rather than spending your early spring days clearing more counter space, moving furniture and shuffling plant starts around the house as they rapidly outgrow their soil blocks, pots or trays, consider the many advantages of investing and building a Seed Starting Greenhouse on your property.

 

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Seeds, Glorious Seeds!

 

With icy cold temperatures and low light levels typical to the winters of the Northeast, one of my preferred activities to help dispel the potential gloom is to fervently peruse the endless collection of seed catalogs constantly filling my mailbox. This pastime always reminds me of the 1968 British musical film ‘Oliver!’ where the emaciated orphan boys march to the dining hall to receive their daily ration of unappetizing gruel while wistfully singing ‘But there’s nothing to stop us from getting a thrill when we all close our eyes and imagine Food, Glorious Food!’ While they sing about ‘Hot sausage and mustard, cold jelly and custard’, I envision the abundance of what can be grown from the seeds of sweet juicy heirloom tomatoes and purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes.

 

While I find this time enjoyable, the actual process of selecting crops, seed varieties and quantities can be quite challenging – the sheer number of seed catalogs alone can be overwhelming, and how much and when to place an order to ensure an adequate seed supply poses further challenges. In this posting, I will offer some tips to help make the seed ordering process just as pleasurable as the images of ‘Seeds, Glorious Seeds’ seen in your fruitful imaginations.