Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring CSA Now Closed

Thanks to all who have signed up to participate in our first spring CSA!  We are now closed.  If you haven't sent in your deposit yet, please do so within the next week.

We still have space available for summer.  If you'd like to participate, please e-mail me and send in a deposit of $100.  Any questions, feel free to e-mail or call.

We have planted carrots, beets, spinach, choi, turnips and mustard in the hoop.  We've also started some flats of kale, collards, onions, parsley, etc. in the house.  There are nursery beds of onions, leeks and collards in the small hoop.  We're in the ground!

We're also working very hard on the planning process for this upcoming growing season.  Charts and spread sheets and notes and seeds are strewn about the house right now.  We've got the wish list of equipment and tools drawn up.  Of course it will need to be paired down - it all adds up quickly.  We've got the list of box supplies started.  Plans for a cooler are in the beginning stages.  So much to do.  But one of the first things on the list is to finalize and enter the seed order - not a quick task when you're considering 5 different catalogs and Dexter Mill and Downtown Home and Garden.

OK - back to planning.  Let me know if you'd like to stop by and take a tour.  Winter is a good time for us to host tours as there's a bit more free time.  You might not be able to see the dirt but you can still get a good idea of what's going on.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Working on Planning and Organizing

It's January.  We've now had a good 30+ days of freezing temperatures with one break of two 40 - 50 degree days about 1 1/2 weeks ago.  We had so much snow the week before Christmas that we were able to make a full igloo.  This hasn't happened this early for many years.  Before the warm spell, the children were cross country skiing every day.

When the snow melted, we once again had full view of the plants in the gardens.  The lettuce and spinach that were pretty small in November are still alive and appear able to take on the challenge of toughing out the winter.  We'll see.  Yesterday I picked up some row cover that I'd left in the west garden and it was amazing - any plants which were under it were still nice and green and the ground was soft and moist.  Even some dill in the herb garden, which had been covered by a pile of row cover (maybe 4 layers) was still green.  I actually picked a sprawling head of Napa Cabbage and red choi from the west garden and we had it for dinner.  It's interesting how the growth pattern of the plants change when the temperatures change.  I'm noticing that with the chard in the hoop - much of it is hugging the ground, as if to duck out of the wind and freezing temperatures which blow through every night.

The hoops are nice and cozy.  Sheryl and I finally covered the ends of the small hoop with "new" plastic.  It's actually construction-grade stuff that I saved from our original wood-frame structure that I built 2 years ago.  It will suffice until we re-skin the entire structure after the snow melts.  We also cleared out all of the plants from last year and I've been irrigating in there for 3 days now with drip irrigation.  The soil was very dry so it takes time to re-hydrate everything.  Within the next few weeks the planting will begin.  I was feeling a bit guilty about not getting to the task of enclosing the structure earlier and one friend reminded me that it's helpful to let the soil temperatures drop so that fungi and pests are reduced.  Even though the temperatures climb to 50 - 70 degrees during the day, they still drop below freezing at night.  In the morning and well into the day if the sun doesn't shine, the soil surface can be crusty and the plants are sometimes frozen.  If it's above 15 or so, the plants don't freeze.  Even if they do, they persevere.

Crops from the hoop now being harvested:
  • Red Russian Kale  - especially sweet right now.  
  • Siberian Kale - also extremely tasty.
  • Lacinato Kale is finally sizing up and we've started to harvest it.
  • The collards are doing well - had a bit of powdery mildew but I've been keeping it trimmed and it appears to be battling off the fungus.  Very tasty as well.
  • The chard (3 types) also has a very different taste.  I usually experience a bit of bitterness with chard - way in the back of the mouth.  But now it is much smoother and actually very sweet as well.  
  • The carrots which I planted last summer, before the hoop was constructed, have taken off and are very tasty.
  • I've been thinning out the choi, mustard and lettuce.  Right now the plants are 2 - 4" tall so I'm treating the thinnings as micro greens and mixing them into salads, along with baby radishes, leaves, roots and all.  Very tasty.
  • There's some lettuce that we transplanted from the field a while back that is now starting to size up.  We're still picking this leaf by leaf but it won't be long until it starts to head up.  There's some nice romaine in there that is especially crispy and full-bodied.
  • The spinach is starting to form it's main leaves.  I'm guessing 2 weeks or so until we begin to harvest.
  • The mache is taking it's time.  This is the first time I've grown mache so I'm not sure what to expect from this crop.  It's maybe 3/4 cm tall and was planted October 31, along with the spinach, choi, etc.
  • The veining in all of the greens is more apparent.  As I've said to some, if you don't like greens this time of year, you never will.  Really, they're so tasty. 
A couple of weeks ago I planned the menu for the spring CSA which runs for 10 weeks and will start March 23.  I'm pretty excited about it.    I'm planning on 8-12 items per box which will be some combination of the following:
  1. Napa Cabbage
  2. Beets
  3. Choi (red choi and joi choi and tatsoi)
  4. Kale
  5. Carrots
  6. Collards
  7. Chard
  8. Spinach
  9. Salad Mix & Head Lettuce
  10. Chives
  11. Cilantro
  12. Thyme
  13. Parsley
  14. Mint 
  15. Rosemary
  16. Radishes
  17. Turnips
  18. Mustard
  19. Arugula
  20. Nettles
  21. Purslane
  22. Kohl Rabi
  23. Peas
  24. A few flowers
Most of spring production will come from the hoops - some, such as nettles, from the woods.  Some from the herb garden, etc.  The Spring CSA is limited to 20 spots and we have about 14 people signed up so far.  So, if you're interested in participating, please let me know.

Until the spring CSA starts, I'm selling veggies to people that inquire.  The list of what's available is above and we also have quite a few eggs right now.  Judging on the condition of the plants, I expect to have a lot of greens in about a month and might go back to the Farmer's Market.  When the sun starts to shine consistently and the days grow a bit longer, those mini-leaves will go crazy!  If  you need a fix of greens before then, give me a call and stop by and I'll sell them by the bunch - $3/bunch.  I also have a few pumpkins and acorn and butternut squash that I could sell.