Monday, March 29, 2010

Lion-like Exit, March

What a crazy month this has been! The weather has been definitely displaying the death-throes of winter in all its glory. Just when we're getting excited, really thinking this sun is here to stay; we get slammed with snow, sleet, rain and floods. Plus, there's the nasty gray sky that we're all so tired of - hanging in there. Heavily. BUT! Then I look at the forecast today, and see that we've got 70s and sunshine on tap for later this week, and suddenly I realize that we really will make it to Spring and
finally get our rightful daily dose of sunshine! We have been diligently seeding in the greenhouse the past two weeks, and have some micros that need some harvesting come Wednesday - a true sign of it all beginning again! We get our annual delivery of compost this Thursday, tractor work all day to get that spread around our field, then we're off to the races with the skinning of the Haygrove on Friday morning! Next week we till and seed the first rounds of lettuces, salad mix, spinach, arugula, radishes, favas and broccoli raab into the Haygrove and work on the usual spring farm repairs that ready us for the real work as the season starts inching closer!

Spence checking out the flooding - just on the edge of our garlic... not too bad!

Some chickweed trying to breathe through the icy fortress the flood left behind.

Arugula in the hoophouse being strong and vigorous!

My favorite day of all - OK, only after pepper planting day, that is! - is tomato planting day! Such great names, textures and smells! Spencer found a squashed grub skin in a package from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year - too funny! I love how tomato seeds range in looks from fuzzy and chubby to skinny and shiny - kinda like the fruits they bear. Can hardly wait to sink my teeth into some of these! T-minus 19 weeks, give or take. Geez!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Seeding and Growing!

Just had to share some photos of what's going on in the greenhouse! First two rounds of micros are seeded and sprouting happily, while the rest of the trays of peppers and lettuces, beets and onions are quietly beginning their season in the trays of soil. It's always so rejuvenating to see those little green sprouts begin our season for us - first micro harvest will be next Friday, if all goes well! Some of my current favorite photos:

Seeding peppers - my favorite thing to do in the greenhouse! I especially love how the hot pepper seeds have a piquancy to them that I can detect when I lick my finger to pick up a stray seed to move it to the proper cell - tastes like summer to me!

Some micros - these are giant red mustards... though micro to us!

Red choi

and for a new experiment this year - micro chards, here's yellow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Early Spring on the Farm!

Went to the farm today to try and clean out the shed a bit to make room for our bulk order of organic fertilizers that we're picking up this weekend. It was so nice to see the field ready for us - just needs a bit more thawing and we can get going! Thought we'd share a couple of pictures we took today - it was a gorgeous day, cool and warm at the same time; sure feels like Spring! I heard the weather guy say that yesterday was the end of "meteorological winter". Sounds good to me! Enjoy the pics!

The Haygrove just about melted - will skin it next week if all goes well.

We definitely flooded in February with the big thaw, you can see cracking in the soil of this house... not tons of mache germinating, but some anyway...

We decided it would be a great idea to go ahead and seed some arugula anyway.

There were a couple of champion mache troopers out there, though - keep it coming, guys!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Food Club 2010 and Spring Thoughts...

Here we go! Half Pint Farm Food Club Application is live! Print it out and secure your spot in the best 20-week eating experience of your life! Some great changes to the Food Club for 2010, be sure to check it out! The past several weeks have been an intense flurry of meeting with our chefs, planning our farm season, ordering seeds, receiving seeds, drawing up our field maps, greenhouse seeding plans and putting the final touches on our Food Club application. It is so nice to be able to say that we are ready for Spring! With a couple of gorgeous spring-like days under our belts, nothing could feel better - I actually got a little color in my face from sun worshipping on Sunday - in MARCH! Hard to believe, but we are so excited to be getting much needed sun. I am even more excited to see on my daily runs over the bridge into Colchester that the gradually warmer temps have that ice in the Winooski and Lake Champlain almost entirely melted! That means that the likelihood of our field flooding this Spring is rapidly becoming zero. That means that we'll be able to get in the ground as soon as we feel like it - which, incidentally could be in the next week or so! We will be making our annual pilgrimage to Richmond to pick up our NOFA bulk order of organic fertilizers this Saturday, and bringing it all back to our field. Once it's out there, we'll be able to asses the condition of the soil (just how thawed out it is), and see if we can't get a tractor out to the field next week and get that Haygrove skinned! The 10-day forecast calls for some pretty nice overnight temperatures... surely enough to germinate some m√Ęche, arugula, spinach and fava beans! We're sure to take a bunch of pictures as we get started in the greenhouse next week and start our farm season. Keep posted!

Since we have been ruminating on 2009 a lot lately, we thought we'd share some of the things we think about, and in particular some data that we like to share when we give our talks at farming conferences. First up, our top tens grossing crops for 2009:

HPF Top Ten Crops of 2009
  1. Tomatoes, heirlooms and cherry toms
  2. Salad
  3. Carrots, colorful and baby
  4. Microgreens
  5. Squash/Blossoms
  6. Onions
  7. Potatoes
  8. Head Lettuce
  9. Radishes
  10. Sweet Peppers
It's always interesting to look at crops in terms of numbers, and it really is a representative list. We had a ton of tomatoes, and sold out everything we harvested - true testament to the Haygrove being so useful in such a wet year... We finally feel like we have a handle on how to grow salad consistently, and well. Glad to see it represented in the list! Of particular interest to us was seeing the radishes finally make the list - they certainly pull their weight making the farmstand
look luscious, but rarely make an appearance on the top ten list. So glad they are finally there! Sweet peppers, too - they look so good on the stand and we grow them so well, but they rarely make the top ten. Also interesting to note is that everything on the list except potatoes and onions were grown in the Haygrove. That thing is a true workhorse, and we couldn't be happier about its performance. Glaringly NOT on the list is, of course, the geese, ducks, quail, and chickens. Alas, not our temperament to grow, and NOT our golden ticket, either. In 2010, we vow to stick with what we know and do it even better! Ready to join us? Spring, we are all systems "Go"!