Tuesday, March 31, 2015

CSA Newsletter for March 2015

Farm Update

The first microgreens of the year are up, and we've
started harvesting them for a few local restaurants!
 Hello everyone!  A lot has happened since the last newsletter!  All of a sudden it got a little warmer, and we were off and running at the farm.  We have seeded our first transplants in the greenhouse, and they are now growing quickly in the flats. We have two of our coldframes (unheated greenhouses) seeded, and some nice plantings of radishes and greens have already emerged. We are now heading into our third week of selling microgreens to some of our local restaurants, so it is nice to be harvesting again! The microgreens are growing in our heated greenhouse and are doing very well. Over the last week when the ground has been frozen, Fred has been spreading our mix of organic fertilizer.  Yesterday we were actually able to seed in the field for the first time!  This was one of the earliest seeding dates since we started the farm, which is mostly due to the abnormally dry March we've had this year.  Our construction on the new greenhouse is also coming along well, and we only have the heating system and electrical work to finish before it’s completely up and running.  We’re also really excited about the new (used) delivery vehicle we just bought!   It has a refrigeration system in it, which will be really great on those really hot days in July and August! So far CSA membership sign-up has been far ahead of where it was last year at this time, so we will have quite a few new folks this season.  If you haven’t signed up yet, you should go ahead and do that soon! We are also offering the home/workplace delivery option for those of you who may have trouble making it to the drop-offs.   If you have any questions or are interested in signing up, just send us an email at mforganics@yahoo.com!

Spring Seeding

Keegan seeds our flats by
 hand in the greenhouse.
Long before the CSA season begins, all the yummy produce you’ll eventually get in your shares starts its life as seeds.  The first seeding of the year is a huge deal for us!  We usually start planting a lot earlier than most farmers because we want to start harvesting as soon as possible, and there are a number of factors that go into getting the timing just right.  We do two different types of seeding at the farm:  transplants and direct seeding.  The transplants are first seeded into black plastic flats and raised in the greenhouse for the first part of their life.  We usually do this in March, which allows the plants to get a head start on growing long before the fields are warm and dry enough to sustain them.  We fill the flats with greenhouse soil from Morgan’s Composting, then we place the seeds in each individual cell by hand.  After that we water the trays and wait for the seeds to germinate and emerge from the soil.  Once the plants are up, we then take out any double seeded plants and put them into empty cells of the trays, so that are trays are as close as we can get to completely full of plants.  Then, when the weather and soil conditions are right, we transplant the little plants (which are usually about two inches tall by then) into the field.  

We plant the seeds directly into the soil in the
coldframe with our 5-row push seeder.
Then there are the coldframes, in which we seed directly. We usually get two crops per year from the coldframes, the first being the greens and radishes we plant in March.  For these plantings we wait until the nighttime low temperatures are mostly out of the single digits, and then we work our ground with the tractor and apply our organic fertilizers.  We then shape raised beds (mostly by hand) and seed with our 5-row push seeder.  After this, we irrigate with our drip line irrigation system and lay large sheets of perforated clear plastic over the soil and seeds.  We then wait for the seeds to emerge, after which we take the clear plastic off.  The clear plastic helps insulate the seeds, which allows them to germinate well even in the cold weather.

After we plant the seeds in the coldframes, we
cover them with perforated clear plastic to
insulate them from the cold temperatures.
Finally we come to the first field seeding, which is exciting because it is the first big planting (and the one that produces most of the first few weeks of veggies for the CSA)!  The main thing this time of year is to wait until the soil is dry enough on the top couple inches to work with the tractor.  Then we seed cold-tolerant crops like spinach, lettuce, and carrots with our tractor-pulled five row seeder.  After the seeding, we then immediately put up wire hoops by hand and use our tractor-pulled plastic tunnel layer to put the perforated clear plastic over the hoops and bury the edges at the same time. Then we wait until the seeds have emerged and the plants are an inch or two tall, and then remove the plastic.  Usually the first seeding is around the second week of April, this year we actually got the first field seeding into the ground today  This will allow us to get a head start on all the delicious veggies for the CSA!

Although it is still cold out, springtime is always a time of great promise for the farm, when we see the beginnings of what will soon be vibrant growing plants and a great CSA season!