Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter Harvest

Freezing cold winters often with thick covers of snow doesn't seem to be the time to harvest any crop - but we actually have a few exemptions.........

Those of you who grow kale or Brussels sprouts know that these brassicas will turn sweeter, less bitter, and more aromatic after a little frost - and how nice it is to be able to pick a little "green" long after the growing season is over.
Corn - I would never have thought a farmer to harvest corn in winter. I don't know the reason, if it was planned to be or not, but a couple of weeks ago - when we had a few days without any snow - a farmer down the road from us harvested corn. I drove by this dead looking field and there he was with his big machine and a huge trailer filled with small golden-yellow kernels!
This Saturday we went to the Niagara Icewine Festival in Jordan. Yes, the shelves are made of pure ice.

Now, living close to the Niagara Wine Country, winter harvest of grapes for the production of icewine is known to more people. The first icewine (eiswein in German) was produced a couple of centuries ago when a German grape farmer was surprised by an early frost. As he didn't want to waste the grapes, he pressed the juice from the frozen grapes and the resulting wine was icewine.

Many of Niagara's wineries now produce icewine and for the past few years we have enjoyed visiting one of the Niagara Icewine Festival events: The Twenty Valley Icewine Bar in the Jordan Village. Saturday was extremely cold and the people serving samples at the bar - made of a gigantic slab of ice - were in an admirably good mood considering their frozen hands and feet.Some of them danced to keep warm - between pouring glasses full of sweet samples - to the beats from the live entertainment.

There were beautiful ice sculptures - like this table. We, as other people, used to enjoy standing at these tables, putting our glass down, enjoy some soup, or just talk; but this year it was just too cold and the tables were standing there as pretty statues.

Even the Queen was there (Winter Queen, Snow Queen, Ice Queen - what do you call her?) in her "nice and cozy chair" as she called her throne with the jester at her side.

In my own field I will be harvesting willow as soon as the snow allows me to do so.
Willow rods to be used for weaving are harvested while the plants are dormant, from November to March. The picture is taken in December and right now we have even more snow. As the rods are cut close to the ground, I have to wait till at least some of it has melted.
This will be my first harvest from the field and I am quite excited about it. Only one of my varieties will be dried to be used for weaving later on, but I'll tell you more at "harvesting time" in a separate post.


  1. You are so right on the eiswein. It is a very big thing in Germany. But I also really liked gluhwein this time of year. I miss it so much. I love the pictures of the wine on ice.

  2. Tina, thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you lived in Germany? On visits to Austria we also enjoyed Jaegertee - have you had that? It is a hot drink made with tea, wine, rhum and spices. Yummy

  3. Hi Salix, Yes! I lived in Germany for over 10 years. I am pretty sure I've never had hunter's tea (Jaeger) because it has hard alcohol in it. Not my thing, but I really did love the wine and the grapes and everything. I miss it so much. I was glad you hear you wrote of Eiswein. We also visited Austria. Not Vienna sadly:( But the Salzburg area, the salt mines and silver mines. Did you visit there? My landlord vacationed in Vienna each year. It my dearest wish to see the Lippizaners there, but we didn't. They did come to Alabama and I saw them there though. Nice talking to you-I tend to ramble but listen real well too:)

  4. No, Tina, I never visited Vienna or Salzburg.
    I went to Switzerland and Austria for hiking in the mountains. One of my dreams is to experience the New Years Concert in Vienna on New Years Day. I always watch it on TV.

  5. Hello Lena,

    I am glad you are bringing along your willow tree: it will be fun to learn to weave with the shoots. (If you will let us :-)

    I loved that picture with the shoots against the snow.

    As yet I haven't been able to make up my mind what to take along.

    Jo at clownplants

  6. Hi Jo
    Thanks for your comment. Yes willow is handy for many things and as they are easy to propagate and grow, we'll have lots of fun weaving.

  7. Wow, that is too cool, love the field of willow. I planted willows along the creek here at the farm. I even named our farm and road 'Willowbrook'...then the elk came and ate them all, sigh!

  8. Very interesting post! I love ice figurines! In my home town in eastern Russia, every winter they make such sculptures. Masters from neighboring China come join Russian craftsmen and make their own sculptures. As a result, there is a whole square filled with the ice masterpieces. Thanks for bringing good memories to me!


I love to hear from my readers - your comments are much appreciated.