SPRING: So much news, so little time


Since we last posted we’ve swung right into the business of spring.  We’ve had many things to post about and haven’t made time to do so.  On February 24, we started the first onion seedlings in the hoophouse.  We’ve since started lettuce, chard, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, collards, brussels sprouts, a host of flowers and herbs, leeks, and, most recently, peppers.  Tomorrow we’ll be starting tomatoes and eggplant.  Our general method is to sow a number of seeds in each small cell or flat and to place the trays in our “incubator” (old fridge with a light bulb turned on) to germinate in a nice cozy space.  As soon as the first plants have germinated, we remove the trays from the fridge and let them all grow in the natural light and heat of the hoophouse.  When the majority of the plants have established themselves, we do their first transplant, giving them more room to grow in a larger cell or flat.  The eight trays of onions we seeded back in February have almost all been transplanted, resulting in fifty trays of starts so far. 

Plowing–the big event, the one we await with baited breath, never knowing when its moment will arrive, or whether it will arrive in time for the seeds we need to plant–took place on the first weekend of March.  The first days of spring-like weather get us farmers itching to plow, but sunshine can be deceptive and it often takes several false starts and more days of waiting–hopefully without precipitation–before the time is really right to drive the tractor over the soil and flip over sod or cover crops to prepare a seed bed for veggies.  However, several days of warm, breezy, sunny weather that first week of March had brought the fields to a state of un-frozen, not-wet perfection, and the plow turned over new and old fields unbelievably well.  Also during that weekend, Carden tilled in the chicken bedding that we’d spread on the old garden spot by the house, made a few raised beds by the shovel and rake method, and planted our first rows of peas, spinach, and radishes.  They’ve just peeked out after this week’s rain.  Two new beds of strawberries have also been transplanted into this field.  Nearby, the garlic we planted last fall is growing by leaps and bounds.

The “shovel and rake” method referred to above–in which a farmer (Carden) creates aisles and beds from flat ground by shoveling dirt from aisles up into beds, then raking the beds into a flattish seed bed, and at the same time wreaks havoc on his back–has officially been replaced.  Last weekend, the spring equinox, Carden disked the plowed ground to break it up, and then hooked up the brand-spankin-new bed shaper we purchased last fall and voila!  He prepared 10 raised beds in a little less than an hour and got busy planting more spring seeds in the lovely ground.  Now carrots, turnips, beets, bunching onions, dill, cilantro, salad mix, and more spinach are on their way, and Carden isn’t limping!

In preparing the fields for the plow, we harvested some carrots and parsnips which had overwintered.  There were a lot of parsnips (three bushels!), so let us know if you’d like some.  Another harvest taking place in this season of sowing, the old making way for the new, is the culling of our three year old hens.  We are trying to harvest a few of these birds each week so as to have a fresh young flock laying eggs for you by summer (and to improve our feed to egg ratio!).  These hens are great for making soup and stock and we are learning a lot about the harvesting process.  We’d love to share some with you since our freezers can only hold so much.  Again, let us know if you’re interested.


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