Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 2014 Newsletter

Farm Update
As I write this, I am looking out the window thinking “Okay Siberia, you can have your weather back now.  I don’t want it anymore.”  It is hard to see after this long hard winter how things could be green again, but it is coming soon.  The snow has temporarily halted our blueberry pruning until the snow melts some, for the simple reason that the cuts have to occur near the base of the plant and all the bushes are half buried in snow right now.  We also have good news and bad news on the attempted expansion of our production areas.  The bad news is that we were not able to get an extra field for veggies, but the good news is that we were able to get into an apple orchard! So we should have some apples next fall!  Our expectations are modest as the trees are slightly older, but it
will still add to the variety of our fall shares, especially as we learn more about apples and their care (which is difficult using organic methods). We are still looking for extra veggie land, so if anyone knows of a small plot of acreage that might be available near Alma let us know.  Over the last month it has been very laid back around our house, and we are very much looking forward to getting the season started and being surrounded by green growing things!  Just a reminder, if you want to be part of the CSA this season and you haven’t sent your payment yet, please do so as soon as possible.  Once again sign-up has been very strong this winter, and we want to make sure everyone gets a spot in the CSA!

I considered going outside to take some pictures of the snow, but I'm kind of sick of the stuff.  So instead, I decided to bring out some old picutres from September to lift everyone's spirits!  Doesn't it just do your heart good to see all those vines reaching toward the sky in the coldframe?

Looking Forward

It has been great to have a break, but this time of the year Fred’s itch to plant gets stronger by the day, as does our desire to have an abundance of fresh veggies in the kitchen.  Although it’s cold and blustery as I write this newsletter, the coming weeks will stir up a flurry (so to speak) of farm activity very quickly.  March is a month that brings with it the start of our growing season and the first green growing things.  Usually the first week of March our coldframes reach temperatures that can support good germination of salad mix, spinach, radishes, and other cold tolerant crops.  These tunnels are worked with our tractor, fertilized with compost, seeded, and then watered (a very cold job in March).  Our heated greenhouse space also comes alive as our small greenhouse is rapidly taken up by seeded flats that will be seeded in the fields as soon as the weather becomes hospitable enough.  Usually these are things like the first broccoli, chard, kale, etc.  Then towards the later part of the month after most of the snow has melted, Fred will spread our mix of compost and other organic fertilizers on all of our outside fields.  This is done while the ground is still frozen (if the ground starts to thaw, the tractor makes a real mess of the ground) so timing is critical in late-March.  The nice thing about this early spring time is that even though freezing temps and strong winds can be an issue, insects and disease are rarely a problem.  Many other less inspiring activities also occur during this time, like finishing organic certification paperwork, doing maintenance to coldframes, and making sure equipment works properly. However, what we are really looking forward to is those first seedlings that come up as the farm becomes green again.  It will be here sooner than we think!

Oh, tomatoes!  How I miss you!  But before we know it, it will be September and we'll have tomatoes in abundance.


Check out this month's recipe for Chipotle Cheddar Chard here.  This is just the thing to get all your good winter greens, but also still pretend that it's summer with a little bit of spice!  I'd just substitute the canola oil it calls for in the recipe for olive oil, because I prefer the taste, and it's better for you.  But really, use whatever oil you prefer.  Enjoy!

Chipotle Cheddar Chard! (Photo from