Jason and I just took a whole week off from farming for a lovely family ski vacation. When we got back to the farm, the growth of the plants in the field and in our seedling house was genuinely shocking. Suddenly we feel like there is a lot of work to do.
We have been working steadily pretty much all winter long, but definitely taking a relaxed approach to everything. Each week there have been some crops to harvest, pack, and deliver to restaurants, and in early February we started the weekly routine of seeding flats in the greenhouse. Now, all those little seedlings are beginning to look like miniature plants, telling us that it is time to move them into the real soil.
We applied for and received a National Resource Conservation Grant to build a new big greenhouse, so we plan to give one of our 30′x90′ greenhouses a break from tomato growing this year… which means that we have less than a month to build this new one, because our tomato plants will be ready to go in the soil around mid-April. This is what they look like now:
These are our “early” tomatoes, although we don’t push them in the ground as early now as we used to. Our second round of tomatoes is scheduled for seeding this week, with a plan to put them in the soil in mid-May. With that date in mind, we planted an experimental carrot crop in the greenhouse that will eventually hold our May tomatoes…. the little carrots are definitely growing but I’m dubious whether they will be ready to harvest in less than two months.
Our farmers market season begins in 5 weeks (!!) when Broadway Sunday market opens on April 21st. We are taking this new, early start date as a fun challenge to see what we can have ready to harvest by then – hence the greenhouse carrot experiment. Thankfully, like last year, we had a quite mild winter, which has allowed all sorts of things to survive for a bonus spring harvest. In late April, besides the limited supply of greenhouse grown radishes, arugula, baby lettuce, and other delicate specimens, we should have a good supply of kale rapini, leeks, beets, parsnips, chard, parsley, and maybe carrots.
Walking around the fields at this time of year is a fun treasure hunt. Also still growing, though not in marketable quantities, are arugula, turnips, green onions, dandelion greens, cilantro, celery, and brussels sprouts. Usually, by late February, we are giving covetous glances at (and sometimes buying) California-grown broccoli, lettuce, and cauliflower at the co-op. There’s only so much winter squash, radicchio, and parsnips that I can eat before I get grumpy and bored of cooking. If it could always be like these last two winters (mostly mild, a few freezes, no significant flooding), I’d swear off that California lettuce for good.
Surprise vegetable treats, late January
Anyway, back to the long list of work I was describing.
Transplant snap peas in greenhouse (another experiment)
Build new greenhouse
Transplant baby lettuce in greenhouse
Dig all remaining parsnips (which are starting to come out of dormancy). Probably ~800 pounds remain to harvest.
Scrub algae off seedling house (it’s getting dark in there)
If the weather ever clears up, transplant about 3000 early chard, kale, and lettuce plants in the field.
Also if the weather ever clears up, mow headlands.
Also if the weather clears up, mow/disk/spade cover crops before they get too big
Process CSA member signups
Tall rye and vetch, ready to turn into soil fertility
So, that’s what March looks like on the farm. Jason and I both have several non-update blog entries that we are writing in our heads right now. We had some great, thought-provoking experiences this winter, and if we can get through this every-expanding list of farm work, I hope we can produce some new interesting posts for you all.