As temps turn chilly, it’s time to get the farm ready for winter. This farm-chore checklist will get things winter-ready before snow covers the fields.
PHOTO: Ludmila Smite/AdobeStock
As winter looms over the farm and we begin to feel we can relax, remember that January and February represent the true the downtime for most growers and small-scale farmers. The months of November and December are when we should clean up our fields, prepare the farm for winter and make a crop plan for next year.
If we leave a mess from 2022 in the field, we will enter a mess in 2023 when we have a lot to do. So before the snow threatens to cover everything, finish organizing your fields and supplies. Make your crop plan before seeds sell out, and make sure to record observations and data before you forget.
- Harvest any last root cellar crops.
- Cover any field greens in high tunnels with double row cover to continue harvesting through winter.
- Mulch your garlic if you haven’t already with straw or leaf mulch.
- Mulch over sensitive perennials that need extra protection from severe winter cold.
- Put tree guards on fruit trees to prevent rodent damage in winter.
- Make sure any labels that have marker names on them for perennials are rewritten so as not to be lost in strong winter light. Use paint markers.
- Make sure all hoses are drained and rolled up.
- Make sure all your field edges have the irrigation headers removed so they are not driven over accidentally (costly mistake!).
- Make sure water systems for livestock are in order for winter.
- Make sure all supplies for winter farm management are bulk purchased ahead of time.
- Make sure hay for livestock is secure for easy handling near animal pens.
- Make sure fuels have additives for winter protection.
- Clean up your equipment, and store all of it indoors.
- Mark all main drives and lanes for snow-removal accuracy and to prevent damage to pasture, gardens and edges.
- Pick up anything else that will be lost in the snow!
- Tidy the barn and sheds to make sure you are organized for the next season.
- Map any weed pressure in your beds that is still visible so you can account for this in your crop planning for 2023
- Sort last year’s seed and assess which varieties are still useful for next year and which are no longer viable. You can even do germination tests to be sure.
- Make sure all your favorite seed catalogs are on their way.
- Go through any catalogs you have and make some wish lists.
- Make sure your garden journal is on order and all your notes are ready for crop planning and assessment of the 2023 year. I always make a year-end assessment in November. Create a plan for your crop planning.
- Outline all your planning to-dos. (Professional growers will start crop planning end of November/early December to make sure this job is done before the holidays.)
- Make a new crop plan in your preferred spreadsheet software.
- Make a crop map to show where you plan to plant everything.
- Create seed orders for all the needed crop seeds and perennial transplants.
- Place your seed order before seed sell out! I’m sure to order before the holidays.
- If possible, order your supplies before the end of the fiscal year to reduce your taxes owed (or at least reserve with deposit).
- Send out special holiday sign-up incentives for your customers for your CSA and market offerings to generate cashflow for seed and supplies.