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first farm update of 2011!

Hello Everyone,

It was a long hard winter and then when spring came, it didn’t! March was one of the coldest I can remember and April was one of the wettest. So here we are at the first update of the season and I’m already complaining about the weather. In farming almost everything we do is dictated or affected by the weather. We need rain but not too much, we need heat but not too hot and hurricanes and hail we hope to do without. Moderation in all things, but in these days of extreme weather we rarely get the ideal balance. Every year is different, but it’s amazing how different this spring has been from the spring of 2010 which was warm and relatively dry.

We have been busy since early March planting in the greenhouse. Normally we begin seeding certain crops and transplanting onions in the field in early April. This year, due to the wet conditions we were delayed until Mid- April and even then only because we have sandy soil at the farm in Andover and I was able to find a few windows of opportunity in between the bouts of rain when the ground was dry enough to work and plant. I was forced to change my plans and plant the onion crop in Andover rather than at the original Starbrite Farm location near Blairstown. The soils there are a heavy clay and do not dry out quickly; an advantage in a wet year but a problem during a wet one. It’s unfortunate because the onions have always grown well there and since they are not grazed on by the critters and are harvested at one time, it was a good fit.

Needless to say we a bit behind in our planting, but my crew and I are working hard to get caught up. It’s hard though, when May is already a busy planting month and you’re still planting crops that should have gone in in April. It brings to mind a favorite line from a Dylan song- “odds and ends, lost time is not found again”

Ironically, now that the weather has started to moderate and I have been able to sow numerous types of tiny seeds we have had to put the sprinklers out, after a week without rain. The smaller the seed the more shallowly it must be sown and the top layer of the soil dries out quickly in the sun and the wind.

The beets and the chard are already coming up, but the carrots and the parsnips take 2 to 3 weeks to emerge and must be kept moist during that time. I have just finished planting nearly an acre of peas, most of which have already come up and been growing for several weeks. We have nearly finished planting the potatoes and onions, there are thousands of lettuces and Cole crops in the ground and growing well. The greenhouse is full of tomato, pepper, squash and other plants ready to be transplanted in the next several weeks.

We are working hard to ensure a bountiful season, but the first couple of deliveries will not be as large as  they were last year. We hope to compensate for this as we go through the season. I hope to see and meet  many of you during the coming weeks at one of the farm events.

Enjoy the spring!

Farmer John

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