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2009 Farm Update #1: Wednesday May 6th

Hello Everyone and Happy Spring!

Welcome to the first installment of the 2009 farm updates. I’m a bit late getting this out, but April was a very hectic month. We’ve been busy in the greenhouse since early March planting seed for the many crops that are transplanted out into the field, from broccoli and cabbage to tomatoes and peppers. The early spring was not quite as cold as it was last year and not quite as wet as it can sometimes be, but it was quite gray. With many days in a row without sunshine the plants seemed to grow extremely slowly. One of the challenges that come along with gray weather is watering; without sunshine the soil in the flats stays too wet and with cool nights can lead to damping off, a fungal disease of the roots. We experienced a bit of this with the lettuce plants but with a little care most of them have recovered and almost caught up with the others. Of course the 4 day April heat wave we just experienced was another kind of challenge; keeping me running back an forth between the 2 greenhouses I am using, trying to keep everything from burning up!

In early April I began planting peas and fava beans in the field, all of which have come up nicely and are growing well. I calculate that I have planted about 15,000 row ft. or nearly 3 miles of these crops. The next step is to finish putting up some fencing around this field before the plants are tall enough to be attractive to the deer (the theme of a bad dream I had just last night!).

At the end of last week we transplanted thousands of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants in a marathon session through drizzle and sometimes heavier rain. Having waited until after the heat broke I was anxious to get these plants in the ground ahead of more rain.

One of this weeks major tasks will be setting out the thousand of lettuce, radicchio, and escarole plants that have also been waiting in the wings for the heat to abate. We have so far planted about 1500 lbs. of potatoes (1500 to go) and 40,000 onion plants (20,000 to go). The garlic and shallots which were planted last fall have come up well and are growing beautifully. Now is the time for direct seeding many of the root crops and greens.

In the next week I will be planting carrots parsnips, radishes, spinach, chard, arugula and many other types of mustard greens. The wet weather predicted will of course make this difficult, but one has to watch for windows when the soil dries out enough just before the next round of rain begins. It hasn’t been an easy spring here on the farm but then again it never is; on the whole I think we’re on track for a good season.

Thanks to all those who came out to help cover the greenhouse on April 18th, and to those who helped with transplanting this past weekend. Your help is greatly appreciated! Next chance is this Sunday as we try again to cover the big high tunnel greenhouse. Keep your fingers crossed for calm winds and no rain!

Farmer John

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