Thanks to Sarah, Pete, Sejica, Phil, Jenny, Anny, Francisco, Gerrie, Linda, Carl, Kris & Kurt for spending a good chunck of your day with us today. Kristina, Ginny and I worked with everyone today. We swept the potatoes for potato beetles and the tomatoes for horn worms. They found a huge horn worm which might now be a pet? We harvested the remaining items for today's distribution & made the final prep for everyone who picked up today. We then moved on to weeding - no small task this time of year - did a little planting and then harvested some onions. The Stuttgarts are looking beautiful and are now laid out to cure in the barn, alongside some garlic. The herb garden is back in shape, the cabbages are visible, new parsley and snap dragons are in. Very productive day.
We'll have another work day in mid-August and another one again in September so if you'd like to stop out, please do. Children are welcome - I can tailor jobs for them - as long as you oversee them. It's pretty fun, generally.
Overall, the garden is doing very well. We have gotten so much done over the past two weeks. We've spread 3 or 4 loads of mulch. Much of the cabbage, peppers tomatoes and onions are now mulched. The tomato cages are in. The beans are trellised for a second time, the tomatoes have been retrellised and the peppers have been tied up in the hoop using a new trellising system that I went in on with Jeff McCabe (thanks, Jeff, for sharing your knowledge and this technique). The arugula has been pulled, the spinach has been tilled under, the first couple of plantings of lettuce have been turned under, etc. These areas are ready for fall plantings which will include radishes, spinach, more beets, more carrots, fall lettuce, fall arugula, turnips, etc. We're also getting ready to start seeding for the plants that will go into the hoop this winter.
I have been meaning to tell everyone this very exciting news: we've been approved for a grant through the USDA which will assist in financing a new hoop house. The grant (yes, it's a GRANT!) will cover approx. $5,000 toward a 30 x 96' hoop. The hoop is projected to cost between $8 and $10,000 so we'll have to finance the difference. Depending upon how the hoop is used, estimates are that the payback will be between 12 - 24 months. I'm sure that also depends on whether you're looking at gross or net numbers but I'll report back after some time. However you look at the numbers, it's very exciting and a bit daunting. I'll move to full-time production. The hoop (both) will not be heated. Crops such as bunching onions, lettuces, mache, spinach, chinese cabbages, carrots, and of course kale, chard and collards, will do well in the cold climate of the hoop. I have heard the biggest challenge will be the lack of sunshine in December/January. We plan to offer a limited CSA and also to sell wholesale to either restaurants or retailers. We're also considering participating in a new co-op which sells to institutions.
There's always something going on here. For the immediate future, we're focused on preparing for the main harvest. As soon as the tomatoes, beans and second planting of summer squash comes in, it will be all that we can do to just pick the produce. So whatever weeding we can do now will help position us for the upcoming mountain of veggies. If anyone knows a high school-aged person that would like to work for 3 or 4 weeks helping to harvest, please forward their info. to me.
Enjoy the bounty - it's coming!