Autumn or winter?

Last weekend, our May, who is 5, looked out of the window and asked if this is autumn or winter.  Remke said that she thought it was winter but May quickly moved on to say, with some authority, that she thought it was autumn, “because there isn’t any snow”. It turns out that May was correct and winter starts on the 1st or 21st December depending which winter (meterological or astronomical) you’re thinking about. Either way we could all be forgiven for being a little confused this year, as we sweat in the heavy winter clothes that we seem conditioned to put on, unnecessarily, in the morning and gradually shed as the day progresses.  I was literally in a T-shirt last Tuesday, as I cut the cauliflowers for the vegboxes, my four layers of thermals strewn around the field. 

Although I have enjoyed the mild weather, I’ve become increasingly concerned as it extends into winter because of its effect on our crops. The cauliflowers that we are cutting now, would normally have been ready at Christmas time, as would the savoy and winter cabbage.  So they’ve been advanced by 6 weeks or so.  Our celeriac, whose growth would normally have been slowed by cooling air and ground, shows no sign of slowing up. It’s difficult to know whether this is a trend or a blip but if my memory serves me well, this is the third consecutive warm autumn/winter; that’s three years of good onion drying but not so good long-term storage.  We have already begun to modify our planting and sowing dates accordingly but the trend suggests that we should abandon our established plans altogether and anticipate another extended warm spell next year.