Cold-Weather Prep For House, Grounds

As the nights in the North Country see colder and colder nights, we've begun prep work on Better Farm's main house and grounds to better insulate our people and plants.

There's opportunity in every planting zone for year-round harvesting. Here's a cheat sheet for rotating your planting schedule:

We're doing kale and garlic as our bumper crop this fall, while adding lots of hay, compost, and cardboard to existing plants in the garden to encourage growth throughout the fall (our broccoli, swiss chard, kale, cauliflower, tomato, squash, eggplant, potato, and celery plants are all still growing strong!). For fresh rounds of plants like kale, we

built cold frames

to protect the immature plants and, later when the weather really dips, to protect mature plants from the elements:

Here are some baby kale plants waking up in a cold frame:

It's also time for upping our

levels of mulch on garden rows

and around plants and small trees. Our

baby peach

and willow trees are additionally being

wrapped this week for added insulation

(we're making our own insulation, or you can buy your own).

Inside, we've also rotated our crop in our

aquaponics setup

, starting some various salad sprouts as well as more lettuce.

Studies have found that by

saving even 1 degree of heat during the winter months can help cut your electricity bill by as much as 2 to 3 percent

. Insulating the ducts helps to maintain the desirable temperature without allowing any air to enter or escape and disturb the equilibrium being achieved. To that end, today we

wrapped foil tape around each heat duct

joint in the basement to prevent air leaks and ensure the forced air makes it upstairs all winter long. (You can also insulate your entire ducts; see how



Inside the main house, we'll be

swapping out summer curtains for insulated winter ones

; sealing leaks in windows and doors, and exploring new ways to increase the efficiency of our kitchen-dwelling wood stove.

Got a great winter-ready tip to share? E-mail us at


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.