A Head Start: Spring has Sprung on the Farm
by Lauren McDonald, Crew Leader
The farm crew has been back at work since March 1st, and we feel like we’re way ahead of the game! This time last year there was still a foot of snow on the fields, and we were sorting screws and nails in the Coop (our main storage building) and chomping at the bit to get on the tractor. This year, we’ve spread compost on almost all the fields and tilled all the sections we’ll be planting in the next month. We’re curious, though, how the mild winter, lack of snow, and early spring will affect growing conditions through the summer. It’s certainly not the same kind of wet, mud season we usually see this time of year. For fruit growers especially, this type of early spring with wide temperature swings can be really challenging- the warm weather encourages buds to open, but frost will damage flowers and prevent fruiting. On the whole however, we are feeling optimistic and enjoying the unusual feeling of being on top of our field prep and on schedule for spring plantings.
We’ve spent time on lots of other exciting projects as well, including building a new winter tractor storage tent, pruning, fertilizing, and adding more irrigation lines to the blueberries, and reorganizing the Coop into a functional, well-lit work space.
We have also built two insulated germination chambers to replace the heated fridges we currently use. We will keep the chambers humidified and at a constant 75° temperature (versus the greenhouse that fluctuates from 50°-85°), allowing us to save space and propane and provide an ideal environment for germinating seedlings.
We hope to transplant our first round of beets, chard, kale, collards, cabbage, and lettuce next week, as well as broccoli, scallions, escarole, and fennel soon after. That’s a good thing too, because the greenhouse is already almost filled to the max.
We’re trying not to get ahead of ourselves though, and have been watching the weather closely to decide when to harden off these seedlings. That’s the process where we move the transplants from the carefully controlled greenhouse environment to tables outside in order to expose them to the elements and prevent shock when they first go in the ground. Overall we’re feeling great about where we are right now and are eagerly anticipating planting in the coming weeks!