This Week on the Farm 5/12
It has been a very wet Spring!! We have still managed to get a lot of plants in the ground, but we are slightly behind where we would like to be because of all of the wet weather. It seems like as soon as the soil dries out enough for us to be able to get into the fields it rains again. Hopefully this latest round of showers is over and we will be able to do some of our direct seeding tomorrow. It just happens that most of our direct seeding goes into our sandiest field, which, given how wet this Spring has been, is a giant plus.
The biggest news here on the farm is that our first full time employee started two weeks ago and we love having all of the help! It past years we have relied primarily on high school workers and volunteer help, but our farm is growing and we now need help earlier in the season. We would like to give a big shout out to Shelbi for all of her help! Some of our Madison members will get the chance to meet Shelbi later this summer as she will be manning one of our pick-up locations on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. We would also like to give a shout out to Shelbi’s mom, Susan, who has set up one of her bee hives here on the farm! That’s right, we now have bees to help pollinate your plants!
I am really excited about the bee hive because I have always wanted (or at least since we started farming) to have bees. Now I can see how much work is involved in maintaining a hive and we can make the decision this winter about whether or not to add more hives. For me, it is less about the honey and more about what they can do for our plants. That and I have always wanted one of those bee keeper hats.
In other news, we have made a giant investment here on the farm. We purchased a new piece of equipment to help increase efficiency and help reduce the stress on our bodies. The new three row planter will replace our one and two row, finger style transplanters. We can now plant three rows at eighteen inch between-row spacing with seven inch in-row spacing. This will eliminate the need for us to plant two rows, come back and interplant by hand, then come through with the one row planter, and come back and do more interplanting by hand. It took some time to make all of the adjustments to the planter and to our tractor to get it working smoothly, but we are pretty sure that we have worked out all of the kinks. We have more cabbage and pac choy to plant with the planter this week and I am very excited to show it off to our helpers who have suffered through our old style of planting. It even has cushy seats!
We have been very busy in the greenhouses seeding and transplanting plants. We finished up-potting our celery plants and boy, do we have a lot of celery plants. Space is becoming an issue, so we are really hoping that we can get a lot of plants in the ground this week to make room for all of the winter squashes that are being planted this week.
Last week we got our first planting of tomato plants in the greenhouse. Like we do every year, we used a hot water bath to make sure we start with clean seed. Our first couple of seasons we had problems with bacterial spot on our tomatoes. After the second outbreak we made the decision to use a hot water bath treatment on all of our seed, every year. We also adjust the spacing in our flats so that we plant every other cell to make sure there is enough airflow to dry the plants out when they are in the greenhouse. This helps to prevent the spread of disease, since a lot of plant pathogens like wet conditions. I am really excited about all of the tomato varieties we are trying this year. My mouth is watering just thinking about all of them!!!
We spent all day last Friday working in our strawberry beds. Last year we planted two thousand plants in our back fields. Our patch that we planted when we started farming is starting to slow down and will get tilled under this fall, so we needed to start our new beds last year to have them ready to go for this year. We have half of the new beds weeded and the rows tilled and it looks fantastic. We ended up having to transplant a fair amount of plants because they had started growing in the aisles, but that just means we have a lot of strawberries. I am hopeful that by the end of the week we will have the other half weeded and ready to go. Plants in our old patch have started to flower, but our new beds just have buds. With the cold, wet Spring, it looks like it will be a later strawberry season. We will let all of our members know if our Strawberry Picking Discount Weekend will be moved. As of right now, it looks like it might have to be postponed by a week. Check your email for that information.
The lettuce in the high tunnel looks fantastic. The asparagus is up, as are the snow peas and the sugar snap peas. We have potatoes in the ground. All of our onions, leeks, and our first planting of scallions are in the ground. This week we have lots and lots of transplants that are ready to go out and we are chomping at the bit to get our direct seeded seeds in the ground. It looks like another week of really long days, but that is Spring on the farm!
We are having a Flower and Herb Sale here on the farm Saturday, May 17 from 9am to 4pm. We have flower baskets, certified organic herbs, and lots of pretty flowers to pick up, so stop by!