A “Pure Michigan” Winter

We are in our typical “Pure Michigan” winter, where the thermometer can swing 20 to 30-plus degrees in 24 hours.  Those of you who are local experienced firsthand the range from bitter cold to sunny spring-like conditions this past week.

Having to wear a pandemic face covering on those extreme cold days was actually a necessity!  Those of us making the necessary rounds on the farm to check on our winterizing now understand why Brenda chooses to be a snowbird and winter in Florida!

Who is ready to slide or play?

Our fuel delivery person must have thought he worked here due to his frequent need to fill the greenhouse propane tank.  It takes a lot of fuel to heat a “plastic bubble” when the outside temperature is close to zero and the wind is howling.  A couple of hours of freezing temperatures is all that it takes to freeze the young and fragile plants.

Below is the greenhouse covered with a fair amount of snow!

We are especially thrilled with days of sunshine.  Even on the coldest days the sun helps to generate heat inside the greenhouse.  When it was 5 degrees out, I planted lettuce seeds in the balmy greenhouse, then scurried home in the frigid air, and cooked a huge pot of potato soup (using our farm onions, garlic, potatoes, and Jake’s ham!).

Below, the sun helping to warm the greenhouse and a bowl of lettuce seeds waiting to be planted.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

This long-lasting snow and ice have many searching for signs of spring.  Spotting robins have traditionally been a harbinger of spring to those living in the North.  Robin sightings may be because many do not migrate but huddle down, just like we do, in the winter.  Then in some of these warmer winter days, their appearance boosts our hopes for a change in the season.

This week we were preparing our unheated greenhouse for later spring plantings by removing dead plants and mulch from last year.  One very smart robin noticed, flew in, and took advantage of the freshly uprooted worms.  We realized just how bright she was when she would not leave but stayed to gorge herself and did not invite others to share in this smorgasbord.  As the sun got higher in the sky and the temperature inside neared 100 degrees, she finally cooperated with us and left!

If these warmer days have you longing for your own gardens and flower beds, we are finalizing our planting schedule.  We will have vegetables, tomatoes, and flowers plants available for sale in May so start planning your gardens now!

Tomatoes are Thriving

Our second group of tomato plants arrived on Monday.  They had to wait until the temperature reached at least 32 degrees so they could safely travel from Schram’s greenhouse in Portage.

We planted two groups of tomatoes, one month apart.  This is the practice of “succession planting”, done with many crops on the farm to maximize their length of production.  By comparison, our sweet corn plantings are usually 8 or more plantings about 10 days apart.  Succession planting is one of those “behind the scenes” activities to ensure a steady flow of vegetables, all tracked in a mind-boggling spreadsheet!

The tomato plant on the left was planted a month apart from the one on the right.

So Many Onion Seeds

Our amazing Lyca is back at work for the year taking on the long and tedious job of planting 20,000 onions seeds.  Her fingers literally fly as she places the small seeds in the 200 holes of the planting tray.  When she finishes about 20 trays, she waters and covers them with plastic to speed up the germination, and then comes in the next day and does it all over again!  The sweet red and white onions are now planted, and she is finishing up the big yellow “candy” onions that we all love.

We are Open by Appointment …

Reminder that we are open by appointment if you are looking for Fuji or Rome apples or any of our alcohol products.  Just give us a call at 269-244-5690.

We hope wherever you are, you are staying warm and safe, and keeping your boots handy for the snow or the mud depending on the day!

From everyone at Corey Lake Orchards