Year-around Gardening in the Finger Lakes

I have to admit that I am a procrastinator. When the first snow of half an inch came last fall on November 17, 2020 here in Canandaigua, NY, I put away my lawn tractor, carefully rolled up my outside garden hoses, and pulled up the tomato stakes in the garden. After all, it was the end of the growing season and what was left to be done outside could wait till next spring.

Potatoes Dug on Jan. 06, 2021


I did make a note to remind myself that there were potatoes still left in the garden. As our weather progressively worsened, there were many days of below freezing at night, only to warm up into the thirties and even low forties during the day. And then on December 17, 2020, we received 5 inches of heavy wet snow. But that snow served as an insulator and the soil in the garden never did freeze. Soon more precipitation came but in the form of rain and the green grass once again appeared. And so today, on January 6, 2021, I decided that it was time to dig some more potatoes. And why not – as I discovered that they stored very well in the unfrozen damp soil which was probably between 35 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Nature’s storage was Just like putting those potatoes in a root cellar but better than a refrigerator which is not moist enough.

Potatoes Dug on Ja. 6, 2021


Yesterday, the first seed catalogue arrived at my home. So now I am busy planning this year’s garden. Most of these plans are just pipe dreams as I don’t take gardening all that seriously. Not so with the old order Mennonites who live near Gorham, NY. They raise vegetables for their families and also for sale during the summer months. I see their greenhouses, heated by a wood stove already storing winter crops of lettuce or cabbages. In the dead of winter around the middle of February, it will be time to start planting the seeds for next year’s crops of tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash. I am always amazed that when I get around to planting my summer garden, their gardens look like they have been growing for months!
Like my mother tried to teach me: “It’s the early bird that gets the worm!”
Happy New Year!