Seedtime & Harvest Newsletter This week’s produce is bright, beautiful and delicious!
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April 25, 2014Market opens in eight (8) days!!! Wahoo!That’s right. Eight days. We have been seeding, watering, growing for sixty four (64) days, planning, ordering, and organizing for one hundred twenty (120) days, and thinking about Market since the last market day (Oct. 25) – all one hundred eighty (180) days.
Ideas, thoughts, possibilities spin through our heads 24/7. So, although our display may look simple and easily put together to you, hours and hours of research, thought, and discussion are behind each variety of plant, each table, each pot, even the table clothes.
Winter was long, dry, and cold, which makes for beautiful crumb structure in the soil. Really there is no structure. It is simply powder. No clods. No chunks. Very easy to till and plant. But also no moisture. Every drop of water needs to come through a hose.
The long extended cold probably killed certain insects and pathogens. We hope so. As our soils become more balanced and healthy, bugs, blights, mildews have become less and less of a problem. We did have an aphid infestation last spring on the hooped spinach but had no powdery mildew or blight problems with the tomatoes that followed. The summer of 2013 was so cool, that many insects, such as cabbage butterflies, didn’t hatch until late summer and never did become over-bearing.
The greenhouse is overflowing with seedlings and transplants. As Alissa bumps seedlings into bigger pots, she keeps asking me to make more room which I try to do by moving trays to the floor. This process of seeding, planting, transplanting, and moving continues until we have three layers of plants throughout this small greenhouse. Suddenly, May 3 will be here and tomato, pepper, and herb plants will be sold to you at Market. Then May 15 arrives and we make a huge push to move plants to the field, and then just as suddenly it will be June. The greenhouse will spew forth transplants until our customers’ gardens and pots are full, our fields and hoop houses are full, and we are only producing replacement plants for fall plantings into the hoop houses and fields, double cropping every possible space until time is up and we are looking the first frost date in the face, maybe September but hopefully October.
Last summer’s hail punched holes in all the greenhouse plastics. The two large hoop houses’ coverings continued to come apart throughout the winter until tie-down ropes would no longer hold the flapping plastic but broke within days of installation. We ordered new plastic.
Tuesday, amid days and days and days of wind, we had a day of calm, a balmy spring day. Son Rick and his two carpenters arrived early and went to work. By 4:00, they had the old plastic off, folded and stored for early frost protection, the new plastic on, and every screw, rail, spline, and bolt back in place. Our growing crops of spinach, lettuce, lilies, flowers, and cucumbers can continue to grow in a brighter, quieter, controlled atmosphere.
Debbie, Heather, and Baby Leah came out to the farm to pick up branches. Noah and Heather’s birthdays are only three months apart. And like all cousins in preceding generations, they spent the day playing, fighting, riding the little Gator and John Deere tractor, giggling, and more fighting. Drama reigns, you know, in three- and almost-three-year olds’ lives. Alissa tried to maintain our transplanting schedule and popped fourteen trays (1,000) baby lettuce plants into damp spots of earth where I had laid and hooked up t-tape earlier that morning.
Wednesday the wind blew like crazy, the new plastic slapped, flapped, and made a horrible ruckus as the hoop houses rocked and rolled with the blistering gusts. T-tape lines became a tangled mess that will take us several hours to straighten and return to each row of baby plants. As one veggie farmer lamented, “I can’t focus in this weather; I get nothing done. We go backwards on days like this.”
By Wednesday noon, Alissa and I decided it was time to give farming a break. The high powered winds were wearing us down. Alissa and Noah went home; Alissa hoping to convince Noah to take a nap while she did something other than farming. “B. A K. E.” she said. “That sounds good to me!”
“Yuk!”I had lots of ‘house’ projects, too. But our new bee boxes won the day. I painted. New colonies of bees should be arriving any day and they all need a home. Onward, Spring!