The weather! What’s up with that? This year has been equally frustrating even though we actually had ‘April Showers’ in April. And May. Mud prevents us from planting when we should and harvesting when we otherwise could have. Deep mud can suck the boots right off your feet! The good news is that that Leeks have not minded the mud and the radishes are coming along. The Hakurei Turnips are holding their own and merely waiting on some sunny weather to resume their growth.
And the weeds – yes, as always. This year we are trialing the use of woven ground cover (geo-textile) as an alternative to black plastic mulch. This stuff lets in air and water but blocks weeds. The best part is that you can reuse it year after year. We hope. So far so good – the fabric below is on its second year.
Here is it February the first and the little tomatoes, peppers and lettuce are already popping up under the grow lights. We are trying to get a jump on Spring because things seem to get behind with no effort at all. So, we are preparing to transplant the new seedlings into the hoop house as soon as we think they will survive the cold nights.
This year, we plan give the baby plants a baby blanket – a floating row cover to keep them safe from frost. Wish us luck with that. If we succeed, there will be lettuce and tomatoes for your Spring salad!
The new pullets are just starting to lay their cute little eggs. We added some Welsummers and Easter eggers to fortify our colorful mix of free-range, pastured eggs.
Maybe it’s just me, but March used to be the windy month. April seems to have taken over that job lately. We had a dickens of a time getting the plastic covering on our hoop house. But, we finally have it attached. It is taking a pounding from the wind right now, but so far, everything is holding up well.
We had our first market day in Lee’s Summit and the weather and turnout were excellent. We met lots of old and new friends on Saturday. At this time of the season, our products were limited to farm fresh eggs and dried mushrooms. The dried mushroom powder seemed to be well accepted. Next market day we will have some fresh Lion’s Mane mushroom to share as well as the dried.
In the greenhouse, the tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and spinach are growing. A few more things to tidy up in the hoop house and we plan to plant the tomatoes and cucumbers in there for an early start in the protected environment inside. Wind can take a heavy toll on tender tomatoes, so the protection from the wind should let them get a good headstart on the season.
I have been busy out in the fields getting the raised beds in shape. It’s lots of work. But I think it will be worth it in the future to have permanent growing beds that don’t get walked on and have plenty of drainage. Last year’s heave rains literally drowned a lot of out plants. Improved drainage from being in a raised bed should prevent that in case May turns out to be as wet as last year. As busy growers, all we can do is plan and work. We have to handle whatever weather may happen and adjust as best we can.
Peppers are up in the greenhouse. The kale is looking healthy and the lettuce (replanted after a mouse discovered the joys of fresh salad) is starting to grow.
We are in full swing for the 2016 planting season. Seed trays are all over the place. Seed packets and catalogs are stacked on the table. The whiteboard is all scribbled with to-do and reminder dates for planting, markets and projects we must finish.
Our hoop house blew down last year in a windstorm and we are rebuilding the replacement in a fever pitch to enable us to use it for the early Spring vegetables. This year, we are planning to use tighter planting densities using the intensive systems pioneered by Elliot Coleman and Jean-Martin Fortier. We will be using 30″ rows and 18″ paths and a two-wheel tractor versus the larger four-wheel tractors. This should enable us to grow more (and better) produce from the same area.
We ordered some unusual varieties which should have a nice eye and taste appeal this year. Last year’s experiment with the Sakata Sweet Melon and the Charentais was a qualified success. We are adding the Black Brandywine tomato to the mix and hope you like it.