CSA and Crazy Rain

It’s that time of year! If you’ve joined our CSA program, your pickups start next week after Memorial Day. Please check your email for important information from us.

It’s been crazy rainy this spring, but we’re not complaining.  In 2012, the first year we started working the 40-acre farm we’re on now, we had a horrible drought. There was hardly any rain in the spring, no rain through the summer, and 20 days of 100° weather! Our ponds ran dry and it was an extremely difficult year. Since then, we refuse to complain about the rain. It just takes a different strategy to work around the showers and get things in the ground.  We think this rain will provide a nice bounty this year, assuming we can seeds planted!

We’re working a lot in raised beds and in the greenhouse to combat the muddy, soaked fields. On the days when it’s dry enough in the field, we’re getting as much planted as physically possible. It’s become quit the game that we’re sure will pay off this year.

Stay dry out there!

Spring is Sooner Than You Think (yay!)

I can’t tell you how happy that headline makes us.  We’re just tired of the cold.

I’ve been filling my days with, among other things, doing inventory, ordering supplies and getting seeds started.  Yes, the seedlings are being started already.  We get a nice jump on the season with the little plants (some started by us, some with the help of suppliers) so they are large enough to move to the greenhouse by the first week in March and start transplanting.  By then the temperatures should be high enough that the wood-burning stove will be sufficient to keep the young plants from being damaged during cold nights (look for an update on the greenhouse in the next few posts).

So what’s already in store for spring?  The usual veggies have been started: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, specialty lettuces, peppers, tomatoes and lots of herbs – basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, parsley, rosemary and stevia.  Many of these plants will end up being sold in packs, pots or planters at our market stands for you all to put in your gardens or on your patios.  The remainder go into our fields.  Much of what we plant on the farm is grown straight from seed in the ground, but we still start some in 4-packs to sell to our customers, like cucumbers and squashes.  This year I’ll try some kale in packs, too, since that was a highly requested item last year for folks to transplant into their gardens.  We’ll also be offering some of our strawberry plants for sale this year…yum, yum!

One of 2014's trays of portulaca (moss rose).

One of 2014’s planters of portulaca (moss rose).

For flowers we’ve got celosia, marigolds, portulaca, Gerbera daisies, and Marguerite daisies, plus coleus and Wandering Jew for foliage.  We’ll sell these in 4-packs, pots and decorative planters.  We’re also adding to our hanging basket and planter selection this year with some new color combinations of calibrachoa, lobelia, verbena and petunias, and a mix of shade-loving impatiens for those of you who don’t have a good sunny spot on your porch but want some color!

We’re up in the air on the perennials for this year.  They were quite a bit of work last season, so we’ll see how the beginning of the season goes to make that determination.  Let us know if there is something specific you’re looking for to put in your garden this year.

We’re adding a new asparagus bed this year, about 1,000 more strawberry plants, blueberry bushes and black raspberry canes.  It will be two years or so before all but the strawberries begin to produce, but our patience will yield some delicious fruits.  We’re super excited!

Although we are still in the clutches of winter, spring is much closer than you think.  We’re counting the days, and watching the temps, until we can really get out and dig in the dirt.  Until then, think warm thoughts with us!

The Bleakness of Winter

I’m really going to try to be much better about posting here more frequently….I promise….Karin

Good gravy, it’s cold.  Yes, I know, it’s winter in Missouri and we choose to live somewhere that gets all the seasons.  It’s just something I have to state any way; like stating the obvious will somehow help it warm up a little bit.

I just wish it didn’t last so long.  Just long enough to give the period of dormancy our plants need, then hurry up and warm up!  I dislike the bleak look of the fields without any color to them, just a pale brownish hue all over everything from the trees, to the pastures, to the ponds.  I long for the warmer days with green trees and so many colors of veggies in the field.

Every morning in these frigid temperatures is a form of calisthenics.  Layer after layer of clothing goes on, followed by coveralls, coats, insulated boots, ear covers, hats, scarves, hoods, gloves, face masks and more.  Thankfully the chickens and pigs like sleeping in on very cold mornings, so we get to delay facing the brunt of the cold air until well after the sun is up.  It’s really not bad on days when there is no breeze.  But when the wind blows, it’s often a below-zero windchill.  The animals are all fed and watered as quickly as possible, given more hay to add to the thick layers of bedding they already have, and then it’s back inside to warm up – until it’s time to go outside and tackle whatever projects we’ve scheduled for the day.  Those subzero days make us thankful for the warmth of the high tunnels, which will soar up to 80 degrees pretty quickly when the sun is out.  When the day is cloudy, though, we tend to lean toward activities inside the house.

Seed catalogsMy all-consuming indoor activities right now include ordering seeds and supplies for the spring.  Looking through seed catalogs is addicting…and dangerous.  There are so many varieties to explore!  One of our favorites is Baker Creek.  If you’ve never looked at one of their catalogs, I highly recommend it.  They’ve got fabulous heirloom varieties from all over the world and full-color pictures to boot.  It’s intoxicating.  I have to restrain myself because it is very easy to order way more than we could ever get planted.  But it’s fun to look.

Arcenio is busy working on a new stove set up for the main high tunnel/greenhouse.  This is the one we start our seedlings in and do all our transplants, baskets and planters in.  This year the benches have been completely refurbished and rearranged and a new potting bench put in.  The wood-burning stove was never intended to fully heat the greenhouse, just keep the temperatures well above freezing for the tender seedlings.  The previous set up did not work well enough, so we’re on attempt number two this year.  This set up is already working much better, but is still being tweaked to be ready for the most tender plants (peppers, tomatoes, basil and eggplant) to be moved in the first week of March.

Next time I’ll update you on some of the varieties already in the works for the spring.  Now, excuse me while I make a cup of coffee and settle down with some more catalogs.