Spring on the farm!
I hope you’re doing well! I know we have been thankful for the nice spring days mixed into the past couple of weeks, though we have seen plenty of cold winds and even snow, eeek!
We have already planted some fields, but the vast majority of our plants haven’t even been hardened off yet. We’re weeks away from planting some of the varieties we grow.
We just seeded our winter squash yesterday. Think we’re crazy? Maybe just enough to be fun ;P In all reality we’re just being extra cautious. We've lost a patch or two over the years, and have found that waiting an extra week as a buffer is worth the wait.
We don’t plant our fields until the threat of frost has passed because we aren’t willing to take the magnitude of loss for the reward of growth that would occur. That is not meant to shame a home gardener for planting a week earlier than us, but just to highlight that if we lost our tomato plants to a frost no one out there could satisfy our need to buy thousands of replacement plants (not to mention the expense). One thing our CSA can take comfort in is that we do play on the safe side! For all of us ;)
That doesn’t mean we wait to plant everything though! Some crops are meant for this type of weather, with our mornings just barely above frost temps. Cole crops and roots crops in particular are very hearty. We have all of our potatoes planted- you can see them in the rows in the picture above. We then come along with a cultivator and cover them up. They haven't sprouted yet but that's not a surprise considering we haven't had any rain (and could really use it!)
We have also planted a lot of onion sets. We planted those through the black mulch because it'll insulate their roots and encourage growth while also holding in moisture. It also keeps weeds down which is really important because onions don't grow fast. We did seed some onions into paper chain pots as an experiment; recommended by our farmer friend. We’ll check back in and report about this once we see how they all do. Pictured below is the paper chain pot.
These are beets seeds; the cells are made of paper. We start by opening up the chain pot, fill it with dirt, and seed it with a special piece of equipment that drops the seeds into the holes at once- a LOT faster than seeding it by hand. When they plants are big enough to transplant into the field; we'll use the push planter and it automatically separates the cells and plants them at a perfect spacing! It basically feeds the tray out the bottom; imagine seed tape but instead it's plant tape. I'm excited to see how well it does here, fingers crossed the rocks don't hold it up too much.
We’ve been crazy busy!! Working up fields, fixing equipment, building shelving, fencing, organizing for the season. Now that we’re going into our second year here we know what worked well for us last year and what we wanted to change. We’re making those changes now and know that organizationally our season will be much more successful.
Last year we moved at the end of April, in the midst of the pandemic (closed on the property the week school was cancelled), so we didn't have all the time in the world to get settled in. We had to hit the ground running! We started working up the fields two days after we moved in. So the extra time here this spring is certainly welcomed. I'm happy with our progress this spring already!!
Thank you to our friends picking up in Robbinsdale and Minneapolis. We have had over 2 dozen volunteers switch sites already, which is great!! For those of you who chose one of those site originally, you will have gotten an email from me about the addition of TWO more CSA sites in your neighborhood. We added two more sites because of the popularity in your neighborhood- we are blown away!!
After asking for volunteers, we now have four sites between Robbinsdale and Minneapolis and Members are more evenly distributed. When I look at the numbers I'm baffled how perfectly it seemed to work out. Which is all thanks to our wonderful volunteers- thank you!!!
Guys, this is SPINACH! It's been many years since we were able to grow spinach successfully. At our previous locations where we rented fields to farm we never had desirable conditions to grow spinach. It never really did very well, no matter where we put it. Now moving here, we're giving it another shot ;) We love spinach!!! I would love to get this back into our normal rotation. I did have some of you request spinach on the end-of-season survey from last fall too- shout out to you guys!!
The greenhouse is filling up! We're literally out of room! That's OK though because we're also pulling out some of the plants to harden off. We took out trays of kale and lettuce, & chard yesterday in an effort to expose it to the elements. It's called hardening the plants (at least that's what we call it). It's sole purpose is to beat up the plants a little bit. They need to be blown by the wind and experience the temperature fluctuations. If we took them from the greenhouse (perfect conditions) and planted them in the field the plants would be so stressed out I'm not sure if they'd survive. Hence the gradual changes where they'll harden off for a couple days before they actually get planted.
All of the tomatoes are coming out of the greenhouse tomorrow and are being planted on Monday tentatively!! Eeeek!! We literally watch the forecast every day, all day, and plan our time and jobs to do around the planting weather.
Our to-do lists are overflowing and we're just now starting summer baseball with our son. We have our girls in dance & gymnastics so we have their performances coming up. It's a busy time of year at home on the farm! School is coming to an end in a couple short weeks. We're thankful to be busy!! Did I mention we added some fun new animals to the farmscape? Go to the blog page and see my other posts!! :D Thank you for the opportunity to grow for you all- we look forward to sharing produce with you all season long!! Stay well friends,
~The Farmer's Wife