Thursday, March 6, 2014

Over the Winter Hump

Nothing like starting the growing season with record low temperatures. March 3 was the coldest day recorded ever for the month of March with a high temperature at only 5 deg. F. That was a warm up from the -7 deg. F that began the day. We spent March 2 doing all we could to make sure that the tender seedlings in the greenhouse and high tunnel were well-protected. It is times like these that the passive solar design of the greenhouse really shines. There were no casualties reported.

The high tunnel survives
Onions in the greenhouse
Lettuce to plant in the high tunnel
And as the sun gets stronger and higher in the sky the plants are indeed responding. The next big benchmark will be when the soil warms to the point where we can seed outside. Last year the peas went in the ground on March 15th. This year's crop will probably go in a bit later.

Also in the field are our biennial and perennial crops. We have yet to see the over 3,000 bulbs of garlic we planted peak out of the straw mulch, but expect to see them soon. Our overwintered leeks have completely died back after many a sub-zero night. We shall see how they do. And in a month we expect to be pulling back the straw from the strawberry plants. If this is a normal year we will be picking them in less than three months.

The farm crew is beginning to take shape. Dustin Bergman will start his farm apprenticeship on March 31.  We look forward to sharing our experience with the next generation of organic farmers.  If you know of anyone wanting to learn the ropes, send them our way.  We are still looking for a second apprentice. In the meantime, we've hired neighbors and friends, Linda and Jody, to work part-time with greenhouse and high tunnel work.  We are still looking for a full-time employee but for now they are picking up the slack.

Feeding oat seedlings to the hens (& 1 rooster)
The chickens are happy and have started laying. They are laying up to two dozen eggs per day, and they should be at three dozen soon. If you want eggs we have them for sale here at the farm. They are small to medium sized at the moment and are going for $4/dozen. Once the eggs are larger a dozen will go for $5.  They eat only organic, non-GMO feed along with the vegetable scraps we give them and all the bugs they can find.

Winter is almost over.  We won't miss the frigid temperatures, but we do enjoy seeing the signs of wildlife in the snow.  Our farm is not just ours, but belongs to many creatures great and small.

Wild birds hopping in circles

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