January and February are the real business months at the farm. This is when all the planning has to happen, because once the ground thaws in the spring thereís no time to hesitate. Everything has to be planned out to the last seed. We grow over 50 different crops, some with as many as 5 different varieties and 20 separate plantings. To keep the produce coming steadily through the season, every planting has to happen at just the right time. So,
in theory this is what happens:

First I look at last year. What did well? What did poorly? Did we have too much of anything, or too little? Are we really making any money? And of course, why?

Second, I look ahead to next year. In light of all Iíve learned about the previous year, what am I going to do about it next year? Add or omit a planting? Make a planting larger or smaller? Change varieties? This is when I muster everything Iíve learned in 30 years growing vegetables, every idiosyncrasy of every field, variety, season and customer, and look for the inspirations that make the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

Then third, I order my seeds.

The hitch in all this is, I really need to order my seeds by about the 25th of January or I risk not being able to get the varieties or quantities I need.. So, well before Iíve had a chance to do a thorough analysis I have to order seeds. In fact often, some time in December I will get a call from a seed supplier warning me that a favorite variety of cabbage or tomatoes will be in short supply and without a chance for more than a cursory reflection, that order is placed. Of course all along the way in June or July or even May Iíve been saying to myself ďYou what I Ďm going to do different next year....Ē and I write these little inspirations down in a note book. Now in January I go back through my notes and assume with each crop, that unless notes indicate otherwise, the next season will be like the last. With the new ideas I shoot from the hip on the seed orders and fine tune later. After all, for all the planning reality gets in the way. Large seeds are fewer to the ounce, germination is too low or whatever, and I still find myself placing last minute rush orders in June because I ran out of Everest broccoli or basil.

January an February are a great time of year. All my wild new ideas work perfectly, because everything works out on paper, without the weather and reality to get in the way.

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