We've been busy as bees here this past week, and the farm is finally starting to look more like spring!
Bottoms up: the hens were moved to greener pastures, which means those egg yolks are only going to get even richer.
A 90-foot long wall of tomato and pepper seedlings in the greenhouse, waiting for warmer days
Covering up spring transplants with row cover to protect them from the cold on the right, while trying to warm up a few rows for early summer crops under black mulch on the left - which season is it again?
New pink buds on the blueberries. We got our first very small blueberry harvest last summer...and quickly realized that was never ever going to be enough. So we more than tripled the number of blueberry plants and blackberry canes growing out here this week.
Some fresh cooking greens are really, really close. I'm hedging my bets, and waiting to see what they look like after this next (and hopefully last) bitter cold snap. Thankfully all that talk of snow and ice for Tuesday has dissipated. Next week if we're lucky!
And a few extra-early spring crops. Glow-y looking radishes...
...and fresh spring scallions!
Hello, and a happy sunny first day of spring!
It's been a bear of a season recently, so I've hesitated to take on new CSA memberships as we grind our way through the last of the cold, dark weeks of winter. There have been times I've wondered if the soil was ever going to warm up and dry off enough to get our spring planting done. But hey, it's mostly done!
Peas and potatoes, broccoli and cabbage, onions, beets, carrots, and more greens than you can shake a skillet or salad bowl at - it's all in, green, and growing. The greenhouse is chock full of tomato and pepper starts waiting for still warmer weather, and we sowed flats of summer squash and cucumbers this morning. Now that all these goodies are finally in and growing, I feel confident that we can feed additional CSA members for the upcoming season.
And so now we are accepting new CSA memberships again! I don't expect that we will be flush with fresh veggies again until approximately May 1st, but if you are still interested, I'd encourage you to go ahead and reserve your spot for the 2014 season now. Any investment you'd like to make in our farm will give you credit with us good from May 1st 2014 through April 30 2015. You can review the details of our CSA program over here, or of course please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Alright, who turned the soup weather back on?? I try to think of these days when it's too cold and miserable to do much outside as "research and development" days for the farm. We've had a few too many R&D days to my liking this winter, but we were able to attend a fabulous workshop at CEFS on this dreary Monday morning, put on by Dr. John Navazio with the Organic Seed Alliance.
It's getting harder and harder to find consistent, high-quality seed from commercial seed houses, and the seed that's bred for sale commercially is often bred for growing out on large commercial farms in central California. There are maybe two souls in the seed world breeding or selecting seed for varieties that perform well in the southeast. Organic seed is still difficult to find, with a limited number of varieties available. Even the best older seed houses are being bought up by pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerates that I don't care to support. All a perfect recipe to learn to do it yourself.
I've always tried to save a few seeds from our own crops for planting out in succeeding years, but kind of dabbled with it, and often got poor seed crops outside of easy-to-harvest tomato and melon seeds. I now feel armed with enough information to get out there and try again! One of the first seedy projects we're going to attempt later this spring will be to grow out seed from the few over-wintered greens that have survived our unusually cold winter. If we're successful, we should have a line of some amazingly cold-hardy greens!
Still light in the vegetable department for now, but we have a slew of fresh eggs, and I think we should have more arugula, some spinach, chard, and radishes shortly. We made great progress late last week during our brief warm spell with our spring planting - most of the spring crops are in, and we plan to finish up by putting the potatoes in later this week, as well as more blueberries!! (a story for another week).
Last Friday I was bundled up in so many layers I was waddling around the farm, wondering if we were ever going to see the sun shine again, wondering why on earth I do this. The past few days have felt like the cure to all one's winter woes!
Winter has dragged on much longer than anticipated. I've been climbing the walls because we're a good 2-4 weeks behind in our spring planting schedule. It feels like we're running out of food. I don't like seeing the week's availability list get so short. I've been waking up in the middle of the night with my usual late winter/early spring "Radish Nightmares," (in which I forgot to plant the radishes, or the radishes froze out, or the radish seed washed away in a downpour, or the voles ate all the radishes, even though really and truly, it's just radishes...these are the silly things that keep your farmer up at night!) We're still not caught up, and cold wet weather is likely to return, but we've made some great progress over the past few days, with plans to get more planting done tomorrow. And that has me more relieved than you can know, and maybe I won't wake up at 2am in a cold sweat over fields of non-existent dream radishes tonight.
The peas are up and sprouting. New spinach, lettuce, and other greens are sown outside. (I'm not going to promise anything about the greens we've been nursing along all winter; as soon as I claim they look a little bigger and greener, snow/ice/single-digit temperatures/plagues of locusts knock them back three weeks). We spent all day today setting out thousands of onion plants, tomorrow we plan to start setting out the cole crops, with a little luck it will be dry enough to start preparing our potato patch.
A few other spring teasers: our resident mockingbirds have returned to mate and nest for the spring, which means run-duck-and-cover every time I walk outside since those tiny but fierce birds like to build their nests in the tree right by our back door. Eggs are beyond abundant right now - I forsee a lot of egg recipes featured here in the next few weeks. This morning I saw one asparagus spear beginning to poke it's way up through the mud. And best of all? The sun is shining and this weekend has only required one layer of clothing :)
We finally caught a short window of time on Sunday that was dry enough to get the ground tilled and some beds properly worked up for spring planting! So far today we have avoided any sleet, ice, or snow, but with temperatures crashing below freezing as I'm typing mid-afternoon, we held off of doing any outdoor planting just yet. So many of spring's seeds are still in their packets, the transplants tucked in the greenhouse for yet another bone-chilling week...but with a little luck, we'll be able to get our spring planting underway by the weekend.
This has been an odd winter in that for nearly the past two months, the produce we have had to offer have mostly been the more tender crops in our greenhouse. Kale, collards, spinach, and other cooking greens are hardy enough to sail through most winters without a hitch. That didn't pan out this winter, and for the first time ever I'm finding myself craving kale in March - usually I'm sick to death of it by now! I'm not always eager to eat cold raw salads when it's a damp windy 20 degrees outside, but there are a few things you can do with all these salad greens other than, yes, salad. Try grilled or roasted romaine: trim the outer leaves from the lettuce, cut the heart in half, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then grill or roast the lettuce at high heat until it's a bit browned on the edges. The larger outer romaine leaves make good wraps for hot sandwich fillings. Sauteed arugula is pretty good, too, and takes just a few seconds to wilt in the pan: toss wilted arugula with pasta, use it as a pizza topping, or fold it into an omelet.
Not too much longer before spring eating arrives!
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