This Week on the Farm 1/20
It has been a quiet January here on the farm. I hope that you have taken some time to browse our website as I spent a good deal of time rearranging and adding material. The main updates are to the pages at the top of our home page. There are now drop down links that fall under main categories. This allowed me to add material and photos that I think help give a sense of who we are as farmers and as a farm. I also added a page that is called “Veggie Forecaster” which will help our members by letting them know what will be in the next box. Although we had this information on our homepage before, we had multiple people ask for an easier place to find this information on our annual survey so I went ahead and made the change. Hopefully it will work well for everyone and make meal planning easier.
We have gotten a few questions on why our CSA boxes start later than some other farms. The main reason is that we do not have lots of hoop houses where we can grow a lot of early season greens. Thus our planting dates are later because we need to account for the real possibility of late spring frosts. By starting the season mid-June we can start the season with larger boxes that have more items in them than if we started earlier. We feel that we can give better boxes out in the last part of October than we can currently give in early June (especially if there is a late frost in May), so by starting a little later you are able to get more produce.
That all being said, we are purchasing a 30′ x 96′ hoophouse this spring. We want to have a season of growing under cover before we start the season any earlier, but we if all goes well we are planning on a 22 week season in 2016 (up two weeks from our current 20 week season). I am really looking forward to putting up the hoophouse this spring.
Almost all of our seed is now in house. I believe there are only three items that are backordered. We sent in our seed order in December which helped us save a great deal of money. Our main seed supplier is High Mowing Seeds and they offer a CSS program where if you prepay by December 21st you can get 10% off of your order. They then will ship your order mid January. It is really nice because they will accept your order when you prepay and place it on hold, that way nothing sells out between prepaying and when they ship your order. They were really on the ball this year and we got our order the 5th of January.
We also received our Nolt’s order. This order has all of our plastic trays that we use to start our transplants, plant labels, irrigation replacement parts, and plastic to cover our new hoophouse. It is such a large order that it comes motor freight. Usually they are supposed to call ahead of time to make sure you are home to receive the order, but they didn’t call this year. Devin and I were playing in the dining room and thankfully our dog alerted us to the trucks arrival. If he hadn’t barked I am not sure what would have happened. I had to call Tyler and have him come home from work to unload the truck since I had to watch Devin. He got it all unloaded and put away in the barn and we are now ready to start seeding once the first crop is due to go in the greenhouse (currently Feb 13 is the start date).
Tyler and his friend Drew have spent a couple of weekends trouble shooting the plumbing on the biomeiler. The whole this is in place and they have measured water temperatures of 160 degrees F. The problem is getting the heat from the pile into the greenhouse. The under bench piping system that they devised had at least one airlock that is preventing the water from the pile flowing into the greenhouse. They think they might need a larger pump to be able to overcome the friction that that much piping creates and they are thinking of moving the pump to a different location. I suggested that they try to grade the pipes differently because there are multiple high points that I think are causing problems. Drew was going to talk to several people to get some more input and then they were going to try to fix it. As soon as it is up and running I want to try growing some winter greens in the greenhouse. I think the system has a lot of potential, but there are kinks that need to be worked out. Since there was no design they could go off of I think they are doing a great job and, even though I was hesitant about the whole undertaking at first, I am really excited about the possible fuel savings.
I have gone out several times this winter to check on the bees. When it is warmish and sunny they have been out and about. I am nervous about them being able to survive the winter just because I have read a lot of horror stories about more and more hives not surviving the winter. We are going to be purchasing another couple of hives this spring, but Queen Sophia was so productive that I would hate to lose her. I have read three books on bees this winter and I am eagerly awaiting this coming bee season. I think that it will be very good for me to start taking over the hives because you have to be in the moment and focused when you are handling the bees. With our style of farming there are so many things that have to get done that you can drive yourself crazy with to do lists and hurrying to get the next job started. In college I used yoga to help calm and center me, now I am going to try beekeeping.