Grower's Row: May Means Plant Sale

By Lauren McDonald

Happy Spring… hopefully?

 Broccoli babes

Broccoli babes

 Tunnels starting to fill up with cucumbers

Tunnels starting to fill up with cucumbers

For much of April, the cold weather has kept us from getting into the ground, delaying our planting schedule by two, then three weeks -- which has been fairly nerve-wracking. While waiting for the soil to warm up, we’ve been preparing for the Plant Sale, and continuing to transition the high tunnels from arugula and radishes to main season crops like tomatoes and a moderate planting of cucumbers. We wouldn’t have been able to get this work done in such good time without help from four dedicated Vassar students and our two new crew members from Nubian Directions (whom we will introduce in next month’s newsletter). Finally, a break in the weather gave us one day (!) to get three weeks’ worth of plants in the ground -- and we did it! One acre, eleven hours, and 18,000 plants later, and our farm is finally starting to look like… well, a farm.

Now that the first planting push is behind us, we’re all getting excited for the next big event: our Plant Sale! This week we’ve been potting up hundreds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables from open trays into pots. Even after moving thousands of plants out to the high tunnels, the propagation greenhouse is busting at the seams.

 It's "thyme" for the Plant Sale!

It's "thyme" for the Plant Sale!

Here are some highlights you can look forward to!

 Calendula seeds

Calendula seeds

  • 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes of every color of the rainbow! Most of these grow well in containers with some trellising (even in a 5 gallon bucket), so if space is limited you can still give them a try. We’ve chosen varieties that are known for their flavor, productivity, and/or disease resistance.
  • More flowers that are great for drying: Statice, Strawflower, and Calendula. Harvest the blooms from these when they are partially open and hang them upside down on lay flat on screens to keep their stems straight.
  •  Flowers that are deer resistant. We know deer are a challenge for many gardeners in our area, so we’re growing several flower and herb varieties with strong odors, bitter flavors, or tough leaves that are less palatable to deer.
  •  Flowers that are especially good for pollinators. (Pollinator habitat is something we’d like to promote in the region.) Look for these flowers that fall in both categories: Alyssum, Bee Balm, Blue Balloon Flower, Blue Flax, Cosmos, Heliotrope, Lupine, Marigold, California Poppies, and Yarrow
  • All of the usual favorites, from arugula and artichokes to yarrow and zucchini, plus melons, strawberries and herbs.

In case the dates aren’t already on your calendar, the sales are the first two Saturdays in May (May 5th and 12th) from 9am-2pm. Come visit us and pick up a few plants to take home! Or take a walk around the farm with us, and admire our newly pruned and mulched blueberry patch, and all of the new baby plants that will soon be appearing in May Share and main-season CSA distributions. (If that’s not reason enough, did we mention there will also be a food truck?)

Hope to see you there!

 Our first planting: 18,000 plants in the field!

Our first planting: 18,000 plants in the field!