Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Onions, kohlrabi and herbs! Oh my!

Spring has really sprung! The snow we got on the first day of spring is pretty quickly melting and the greenhouses are filling up! Onions were one of the first crops to get started on the heat tables and here's a little photographic progress for you to see.
Right now we have seven varieties of scallions, white cipollini, early sweet candy onions, two different red cipollini, four varieties of storage onions, three varieties of leeks, and four kinds of shallots.
We've also started:
Celeriac-Diamant, Mars & President
Herbs for our CSA herb packs: Rosemary, thyme, savory, Greek oregano, sage, Giant of Italy parsley, krausa/curly parsley, & stevia.
Two edible Violas- Sorbet & Helen mount
Plus two kinds of brocolli, three cauliflower, five kohlrabi, two bok choi (including a gorgeous red choi), four varieties cabbage, two fennel, a super cool purple Concerto Artichoke, SEVEN different kinds of lettuce, two varieties of dandelion greens.
Today we will start three kinds of kale and collard greens.
This week we will plant 4-5 different eggplants, basil, two Okra varieties (Little Lucy & Cajun Delight) and SEVENTEEN different varieties of peppers!!!
Next week: TOMATOES!
This is all just in the greenhouse. We will direct sow carrots, beets, garlic (already in the ground over winter), spinach, salad mix, radish, chard, cilantro, dill, arugula, edamame, green beans, corn, parsnips, sunchokes, turnips, potatoes, peas, rutabaga, sweet potatoes.
When I say we, I mean our amazing field crew. I just work in the office and blog. Our latest newsletter is available on our website - check it out!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Greenhouse 101

First, you start building the room again. This greenhouse was used for curing sweet potatoes this fall and the one across the road held winter squash & dried chiles for the ristras. So you have to clear all that out and make it a greenhouse again. Set up the tables, make sure the water flows, hoses are connected, and thermostats are set.

This greenhouse is where the plants get started - the tables are lined with hoses with warm water flowing through them to maintain the soil at 75 degrees. We try to use the space as efficiently as possible so that means keeping those tables full!

We tuck the plants in at night to keep the warmth and moisture in. Then we unroll the covers each morning before the sun starts beating down. It's amazing to see the plants push up out of the soil, sometimes overnight! It seems like you can watch them grow during the day - inches from morning to afternoon.

When the plants are big and strong enough, we move them across the road to the other greenhouse. Space is definitely at a premium, so we have to fill in any holes in the trays. If a seed didn't germinate, we've planted trays to transplant little seedlings so we get to 100% capacity. Smart.

So even though the first day of spring brought us snow, inside the greenhouse was warm and thriving!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Update

It's a beautiful, crisp winter day in our valley! We are still enjoying winter weather complete with piles of snow and ice, but the sunshine today is very much appreciated.
It's been a busy week in the greenhouse. On Monday we graduated some of the onion plants to the large greenhouse. They are big enough to do fine on their own out of the nursery. Soon they will be ready for a haircut, but other than that we just need to make sure they have enough water, appropriate temperatures for slow, steady growth, and a little conversation now and then to meet their social needs.

Back in the nursery greenhouse, we are patiently waiting for some cipollini and shallots to pop up. In the meantime, yesterday Hector, Simon and Alejandro planted the rest of the shallots as well as all the herbs for the CSA herb packs, and celeriac! We are making progress, but still have a lot of planting left to do.

Until there is more greenhouse work, the guys are staying busy repairing pallets. We had a whole stack of them set aside to repair as a winter project. Once they are caught up we should be good on pallets for quite awhile.

Terri has been working diligently to prepare for the first large CSA fair this week in Minneapolis. Last weekend she had a smaller scale trial run at the Viroqua Food Co-op. She has a beautiful display board and did a little shopping in the cooler this morning to get veggies for her display. Both Brian and Terri have been working furiously to get all the CSA signups we are receiving processed.
The packing shed coordinators have stayed busy this week working on revising manuals, putting the finishing touches on the greenhouses, and organizing our supplies inventory. Spring doesn't allow time for "spring cleaning," so we are doing winter cleaning.
Richard has been busy this week with phone conferences with buyers, meetings at the FSA office, as well as all of the other things coming across his desk. He's hoping to find time this weekend to catch up on his reading....especially the latest edition of Spudman Magazine that came last week.

Well, that's the week wrap-up from the farm. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Update from the Greenhouse

Wanted to keep everyone up-to-date on growth in the greenhouse. Hector, Simon, and Alejandro planted more shallots and started on the red cipollini last Thursday. We moved the green onions that were planted first off the heat table since they are strong enough to survive on their own now. They are growing like crazy...they literally look kind of crazy! Pretty soon we are going to have to trim them up a bit so they don't get too gangly. Monday we are going to move more onions off the heat table and fill more trays. Tuesday they will plant the rest of the red cipollini onions, and hopefully by Thursday will be able to finish the shallots. That should be it for the alliums, and then we'll move on to celeriac.

Even though there is still snow on the ground and we're supposed to get freezing drizzle tonight, we thought we might as well get into our spring/summer routine of checking out the fields on the weekends. So, we tromped out to the garlic field and Richard just couldn't resist the temptation to dig down and see what he could find. Let me tell you--he has skill. He picked a random spot, dug out the snow, stuck his finger in the ground to see if it was frozen and when he pulled out the dirt (which was not frozen) he also pulled out some roots. He just happened to have dug in right next to one of the garlic cloves. So, we can report that all looks well in the garlic field. The clove we observed had nice strong roots and a sprout starting to develop.

We also checked out the beaver dam--didn't see any activity, but could see evidence thereof. They sure have been busy cutting down trees and eating the bark off their winter stick stash. Guess they'll be ready to move downstream in the spring.
That's it from the farm. Have a great week!