Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Preparing for Spring

While I haven't posted in awhile, there's quite a bit happening around the farm.

Here's the hoophouse update:
  • The hoophouses are close to fully planted.  There are a few beds of veggies that have reached their max. lifespan and need to be torn our, new compost spread, and reseeded.  But things are moving along nicely. 
  •  The small hoop was planted over the past 6 weeks with carrots, broccoli raab, choi, white egg turnips, beets arugula, daikon and komatsuna summerfest.  There are some small black flying bugs in there that are putting some pressure on the turnips and broccoli raab but overall everything is looking good.
  • The middle hoop is coming into full production now.  There is chard in there that has been harvested all winter and I'm giving it a rest now to allow it to re-grow in time for the start of the spring season.  The first planting of choi has almost all been harvested and the second planting is moving into full production now.  There is also spinach and lettuce in there that should be quite large in 3 weeks.  There's a long bed of green onions - still small now and a bit sparse but they should be nice in 4 weeks or so.  A recent seeding of kale, collards and chard is emerging.  There is also a lot of yukina savoy which we've using as a base for salad mix or cooking and a nice bed of a brassica mix (mizuna, mustard, asian lettuce, baby kale and collards) which is an excellent salad mix - very, very popular at the market.
  • The newest hoop still contains a decent amount of carrots (this is what I've been bringing to market) along with 3 types of kale, 2 types of collards, spinach, mustard and lettuce.  There's a recent seeding of cherry belle radishes, lettuce and peas which are all beginning to sprout.  I'm afraid the collards have black rot - which is a fungus spread via seed - so I'm going to pull them and start over.  It's lucky that I planted baby kale and collards for the salad mix because I can transplant some of those babies to another bed and they should be in full production in 6 - 8 weeks. 
Here's the field update:
  • There's a decent stand of leeks that I will be saving for the CSA members.  We mulched them in Dec. and they're looking pretty good.  This will be a nice treat in late March.  There's also a nice amount of carrots outside.  So we should have carrots for the beginning 3 weeks or so.  I also held back some parsnips so you'll see this in the box for March.
  • The garlic is starting to sprout but I still haven't uncovered it.  It is heavily mulched.  Pretty soon we'll have to peel back the hay so it can get some air.  This crazy weather is so hard to predict and I don't want to uncover it too soon.
  • Some of the chard in the front garden is trying to make a come-back.  It didn't do very well last summer - it was in a location that it didn't seem to like - maybe too acidic as it was along the pine tree row.  So we'll see if the plants were strong enough in fall to really make it through the winter.  It would be nice because we could get a few picking off of it but really it's not a big deal either way because it will bolt (go to seed) quickly thereafter.
  • The cover crop of winter rye is looking pretty strong which will help with weed suppression and also with the addition of nutrients back to the soil when we work it back in.
  • The chick weed in the front garden is already doing its thing.  Will probably need to flame weed this soon as it goes to seed very quickly.  This is also a problem weed for us in the small hoop and is trying to take hold in the southeast corner of the middle hoop.  We'll keep working at getting this out.  The fortunate thing about chickweed is that it's edible and actually good for you.  So much so that I had one person come out last year and pay me to harvest it.  But the problem with it is that the plants form a large mat of small roots that are very successful at crowding out everything else.
  • We're in discussion with an excavator about digging a pond to help contain excess water this year.  We'll see.
Other info:
  • The winter market in Saline is still in session.  I've been able to take a nice amount of veggies and still have garlic and potatoes along with the carrots, choi, salad mixes, etc.  Stop in if you need a veggie Some tomatoes, peppers, celery and parsley have been started in flats.  The seedlings are up.  I'll be moving the flats into the small barn and will continue seeding.
  • One of our goats is nearing the kidding stage.  Another is expected to follow.
  • The goat kids that were born in December are doing well.  Noel thinks she's a person which is kind of a problem because every chance she gets, she makes a mad dash to the house and throws herself at the glass doors.  So she'll probably be sold soon.
  •  The spring CSA is sold out.  We still have room for the summer session though so let your friends know.
  • I'm in the process of interviewing candidates for both an assistant farmer position and field hands.  So far no one has applied for the first position but I have a lot of people who have contacted me for the second, as well as prospective interns.  This is great!
  • Big news - we'll be attending the Saline Farmer's Market this year.  The market is on Saturdays from 8 - 12.  I'm still trying to play around with pick up schedules so that it will all work out and will probably send out an e-mail to members that have signed up to see whether you would like to pick up here or at the market.
  • I'm still working on a distribution shed in my mind.  I go back and forth between trying to figure out how to use the existing barns and building a shed closer to the hoops.   One challenge is traffic flow.
  • Overall, things are coming along.  We've moved from a "brand new business" feeling to a more settled operation.  While I'm still wearing many hats, my network of support is growing.  This year I hope to automate the book keeping and figure out how to post the box contents/photos more easily - an i-phone might be in order. 
  • The seed order is close to complete (in my mind anyway) so it's not too late to put in a vote for a favorite variety or item.  The new veggie I'm planning to try this year is ... sweet potatoes.  And yes, fava beans will be grown, along with all of the other yummy items like okra, hot and sweet peppers (hopefully they won't cross again), etc.
FYI - I sent the following section out to members that have already signed up but thought others might also be interested in what might make our operation run more efficiently.  Every once in a while someone asks  this question.

We're continuing to make new investments here in the hopes of making each year better than the one before.  One example of this is that last November we had about 100 or more tons of limestone hauled in to raise the drive and help with the mud issues.  Maybe it won't rain this year as much as it did last but if it does, pickup should be a bit easier.  We still have a wish list that we're working on to improve the farm:

  • We'd like to hire an excavator to dig a pond which will help with excess rain. 
  • A cooler would really be helpful.  One can be built relatively inexpensively with insulated foam walls and a cool-bot.  This would  help keep the veggies looking fresher and prolong storage of fruits, greens and root crops.
  • A distribution shed would be a big plus - complete with a wash/pack station, etc.  One idea is to move the distribution to one of the barns instead of building a new structure.  But then I'd have to re-route the traffic - move fencing, bring in more gravel, etc.
  • A tractor with a loader on it would be a huge plus as well.  This would help with turning the compost pile and moving all of this black gold around.
To help fund one of these items, we might plan a fundraiser.  If anyone has any thoughts or ideas on this, please let me know.
We're looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

1 comment:

Tricia said...

Yay leeks and carrots! Yay sweet potatoes! Yay for green onions and everything else - mostly just YAY for the upcoming season of fresh & tasty veggies!!