Opening Day 2017!

All pick-up instructions were sent out this past week.  If you did not receive them please get back to me ASAP so that I can send them to you.  Please read the pick-up instructions to ensure the day or location for you pick-up is when/where you want to pick-up.  Some pick-up days, times and locations have changed!

July 4th is a Tuesday this year.  We plan to be open for on-farm pick-up.  If you want to switch to a different day that week please let me know as soon as possible so we can plan accordingly.  Stay tuned for the delivery schedule (including the delivery of our partner products e.g. fruit, cheese, etc.)  Except for this July 4th issue our calendar should be up to date and accurate.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Farm News

In farming it is all about the weather.  For a while it looked like the season was off to a warm start and everything would be early.  Then we had a prolonged cold spell that caused us to pause planting the warm season crops due to fear of them perishing in the cold weather.  Then we had a prolonged warm, dry spell — five 90 degree plus days so far this month! — that was great for the warm season crops — except that we just planted them and they weren’t well established.  It was not so good for the cool season crops.

The hot weather has negatively affected our pea production.  In a typical cool spring the peas would grow tall with many flowers on each plant.  This year with the hot weather the peas didn’t grow very tall — especially the second planting — and have far fewer flowers.  Peas do best in cool weather like you’d find along the Pacific Northwest coast or along the north shore of Lake Superior.  This year has not been kind to the peas.

Lettuce is another cool season crop.  During the hottest days this spring we misted the lettuce to keep it cool.  This seemed to work ok but we lost most of the red leaf variety to bolting (early flower set) which renders it worthless.  When the weather turns hot the lettuce thinks it is summer and it is time to procreate.

Bok choi is also a cool season crop.  We did nothing to the bok choi during the hot spell and for the most part it looks pretty good.  We grow it under a floating row cover — a thin, lightweight fabric — to prevent flea beetles from chewing many holes in the bok choi.  We don’t like removing the row cover until harvest to prevent flea beetles from entering the sanctuary.  So we aren’t 100% confident the bok choi is in great shape but from above the row cover it looks good!

The broccoli is another cool season crop.  Much like the lettuce, when the weather turns hot it turns frisky and wants to procreate.  So a lot of our early broccoli started to flower before the plants got big.  So the heads of broccoli this first round are on the small side; we’ll bunch several of them together to make a share.  The heat also discolored it a bit but it still tastes fine.  Broccoli is not an easy plant to grow in the spring.

The rest of the farm is coming along as expected.  The tomatoes in the hoop house have fruits.  The cucumber plants are well established and growing.  The summer squash is flowering.  The potato plants have been hilled once and should be hilled again soon.  All-in-all the warm season crops are coming along quite well!

What will we have this week?  For those who are new to the farm I make my best guess at the time of writing this newsletter as to what we will harvest this week.  I have a 93.5% accuracy rate over the last fifteen years (alternative fact!)  So be aware that there is a chance this guess is wrong.  Also, I list everything we harvest.  Due to limited quantities not everything on the list will be in your delivery share or available in the pick-up tent.  So if you are the type that needs to know what is coming I would suggest skipping this paragraph in the future because it may not be accurate in your situation.

With that said, this week we will have bok choi, lettuce, radishes, green onions, green garlic, garlic scapes, broccoli, some snap peas and some snow peas.

Recipes of the week!

Bok choi with Crunchy Noodles.  This is a very simple recipe that tastes wonderful.  It uses many of the ingredients in this week’s share.  You can also slice the radishes and add them at the beginning just after the onions.  Cooking radishes make them palatable to those who don’t like radishes!

Garlic Scape Pesto.  This is a great way to use garlic scapes.  You can also use green garlic.  And if you don’t have pine nuts use macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans or walnuts instead.  Each will add its own unique flavor.

FruitShare, EggShare, CheeseShare, IceCreamShare, CoffeeShare, MeatShare and SeafoodShare are all this week!

We will take back pint size clamshells from FruitShare (the size the blueberries come in).  We use them for cherry tomatoes.

We are changing the order of the seafood for SeafoodShare.  You’ll get exactly what you ordered just in a different order.  English is so confusing.  Anyway, this week it will be Yelloweye and Halibut!

No FlowerShare yet.  It will most likely be a few more weeks.

As always, do not hesitate to send in your questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

 

Lordy I Hope There Are Scapes

Garlic Scape

One week from today the season begins! (That would be June 20th for the calendarly challenged). Please check your email for pick-up instructions (except as noted below).

Before we can start the season we have a few quick announcements.

Please get any final orders for Fruit, Cheese, Ice Cream and Eggs to us by noon on Friday June 16th.

We can squeeze in a couple more veggies shares. Please order ASAP if you plan to participate this year!

Pick-up instructions went out to everyone except for International Plaza and the near 3M drop sites.  I should have emails to members picking up at these locations sent shortly; sorry for the delay.  For anyone else please let me know if you did not receive the instructions and I will try to discover why.

On-farm Pick-up.  A couple people who picked up on Mondays last season have not chosen a new day.  We do not have Monday on-farm pick-up anymore so please let us know which other day you prefer.

If you have any questions about pick-ups now is the time to ask them!  It gets nothing but more busy from now on.

Farm News

First I must say I am extremely thankful that the severe weather that crossed the Twin Cities did not impact us.  I’ve seen reports of farms completely wiped out by the large and voluminous hail.  My heart goes out to those farmers who put their life into the hard work they do just to have it destroyed in a matter of moments.  It can happen to any of us farmers.  It is just the luck of the draw.  Though we talk about CSA being about shared risk I would hate to have to inform our customers that all our plants and your vegetables were destroyed.  I hope these farms recover to plant another day and wish them the best.

Second, the struggle we were having for quite a while was the lack of rain.  We spent a considerable amount of time trying to keep our plants from dying.  Saturday was perhaps the most trying day.  98 degrees with a fierce wind sucking all the moisture out of the ground and out of the plants.  We did our best to keep the cool season crops from bolting and the warm season recent transplants from wilting.  I think we were successful but time will tell.

Third, what the heck does the title of this newsletter even mean?  For those of you new to the farm and to seasonal eating you may not know what garlic scapes are.  In your first week you will receive these wonderful, curly-q treats.  In fact you will probably receive them for the first few weeks.  Garlic scapes are a part of the garlic plant that we cut off to force the garlic plant to put more energy into growing the garlic bulb.  In the past, garlic growers used to leave these delectables in the field until one brave soul took a bite and discovered their wonderful taste!  It has a mild, garlicky flavor.

We like to put garlic scapes through the food processor to grind them up then throw in a block of cream cheese to make a delicious spread.  Using sour cream instead provides a nice dip!  You can also roast them or add them to any dish that needs a nice garlic note.  We’ve used them as edible shish kebob spears.  The potential uses of garlic scapes are only limited by your imagination.  If you have other ideas on how to use scapes please send them my way and I can put them in next week’s newsletter.  By the way, garlic scapes store in the fridge for a very long time.  The tips and cut end may dehydrate over time but just cut them off and use the rest.  We’ve found scapes lost in our fridge that were more than a month old and they still tasted delicious!

Predictions for week one: I’m going out on a limb but I think we will have some of the following: lettuce, chard, kale, garlic scapes, snap peas, radishes, green onions, bok choi, and maybe broccoli.  Oh and possibly beets!

As always, do not hesitate to send in your questions, comments, suggestions, jokes, brain teasers, etc.

Farm Update

Spring Cover Crop

With all this beautiful weather outside I don’t have time to write much but felt it was important to get a few things out to you.

First, I’m fairly confident we will start the week of June 19th.  Some things like bok choi and radishes are looking like they will be ready by next week.  But that doesn’t put much in the shares.  So we’ll go with the 19th and hope the radishes and bok choi hold.

Please put in your order for any extra items like fruit, cheese, eggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share as soon as possible.  If you aren’t sure if you ordered something and would like to make sure it is on your account please feel free to contact me and I can check for you.

We still have a few shares left but not many.  If you are reading this and haven’t joined yet, but plan to, do it now otherwise you may miss out.

With this nice weather our indoor project has been on hold for a while.  Hopefully we’ll get some much needed rain so that we can finish it off.

I’ll try to send out pick-up instructions later this week (most likely over the weekend).

Farm News

When it rains it pours and when it doesn’t we end up spending time irrigating.  At this point in time some plants have been in the ground long enough for their roots to find plenty of moisture.  It is down there, just not readily apparent from the surface.  But our newer plants struggle to stay alive since they aren’t well established.  So we have to give them water until they are well rooted or until we get a good soaking rain to provide that boost necessary to make them successful.  Looking at the forecast we don’t see any soaking rains anytime soon.  So we are irrigating.

We also are starting our battle with our insect pests.  The flea beetles are ramping up and feasting on our brassicas.  I saw cucumber beetles yesterday for the first time this spring.  Also the Colorado potato beetles have made their appearance.  These are our three most destructive pests — at least until the other pests arrive.  With the plants relatively small I spent a considerable amount of time walking around spraying them with an organic pesticide  PyGanic.  PyGanic is derived from chrysanthemums and has a very short residual time — less than 24 hours.  It is a contact insecticide so quietly creeping up on the insects works best — not easy to do with a backpack sprayer, but much more effective than using a loud, diesel tractor!  Actually we’ll use the tractor once the plants get bigger and have more surface area to reach.

We are also spending considerable time trying to manage the weed pressure.  We have some mechanical cultivation capabilities to get within six inches or so of the plants, then it is all about hoeing and hand-weeding.  It is a lot of work.

So that’s pretty much our work week here on the farm.  Irrigating, pest-killing and weed management.  Oh, and we’ll be putting in a few more transplants later this week.  Soon we will add harvesting to the mix!

As always, do not hesitate with questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

AmphibianShare

Salamander

A few announcements and then on with the “real” news!

Minneapolis Drop Site: Due to host relocation our Minneapolis drop site is looking for a new home.  If anyone is interested in being our Minneapolis drop site or know of somewhere that would work well as a drop site please let me know.  The requirements are minimal:

  1. Must be in Minneapolis
  2. Have a spot out of the sun accessible to other members
  3. A small place to store delivery boxes until the next pick-up

That’s pretty much it.  We only have three members so it isn’t a big commitment.  Please let me know if you are interested ASAP!

MeatShare deadline is Tuesday May 30th (which is today even though I wrote this last week)!  We can probably still squeeze you in if you get us the order by Wednesday May 31st.

We are still looking for an employee or two.  Send any able bodied people our way!

We still have a few shares left.  We’d like to sell out so if you know anyone who needs to eat more veggies send them our way!

As I’ve mentioned every time we are still taking orders for other items like fruit, cheese, eggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share.  Please order them soon if you plan to!

Toad — Extra Large!

Farm News

Well we had a good run of dry days which let us catch up on the planting.  We are a bit behind in weed management but not too far behind.  With this week’s forecast looking mostly dry after today we should be able to make great progress in weed eradication.  But we also still have this week’s planting to do so who knows where we will be in the schedule by the end of the week.  Plus, even though I finally finished the mowing of the headland areas today I need to start the process again due to all the growth this past week.  It is a never ending cycle.

Our remodeling project has been on hold while the weather has been conducive to farming.  I suspect we will find a few more rainy days this spring to finish it off.  We need to do another coat of mud on the dry wall seams, prime, paint and clean-up.  This remodel should save us some time packing this summer!

We seem to have gained a bunch of bunnies.  In typical years we would only see rabbits in areas with tree cover — generally over by the packing shed.  This season they seem to be running around out in the field.  Not sure what changed but hopefully it changes back.  One possible reason is I put a radio in the horse barn tuned to the sports talk station.  Why you ask?  First of all I think the horses are sports fanatics.  Second about half our chickens were eaten by a coyote.  We know it was a coyote because we saw it a few times.  Ever since I put the radio on we haven’t lost any more chickens.  I believe it is enough of a deterrent to keep them safe, but it might be keeping the rabbits safe as well.  You just can’t fool Mother Nature figured out.

Frog Sentry

Finally here are a few pictures of what you can expect with AmphibianShare.  They are all growing fast and looking great!

As always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, and suggested radio stations.

 

Dumpster Snorkling

As I’ve mentioned before, in farming some days you get to work outside and some days you have to work outside.  Well this week we aren’t doing either.  I don’t think I have to tell you that it is just too wet.  But before I tell you what we are doing here are a couple of noteworthy messages.

CheeseShare now includes Parmesan!  But unfortunately no longer includes jalapeno cranberry cheddar.  For those who have already ordered, this would be a good time to let us know if you want to change any of the default cheeses.  Just send me an email with your changes.

Our anticipated start week is either June 12th or June 19th.

We are getting closer to selling out!  Please order soon if you plan to rejoin.  Also don’t stop telling your friends and neighbors since we haven’t sold out yet!

We are also still taking orders for most everything else like fruit, cheese, meateggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share.  MeatShare deadline is May 30th.  These are all great add-ons to your veggies.  Most come from small producers, are organic (but maybe not certified) and frankly are quite tasty!  If you consume any of these items please consider buying them through us.  It is a great way to help small, sustainable farm businesses survive!

We are still taking payments for those who have forgotten to pay for their shares!  Please send in your full payment if you haven’t already and are not on a payment plan.  If you aren’t sure if you still owe money or how much please contact me and I can look it up for you.

Farm News

All this rain has really dampened our progress in getting everything planted.  We are actually a bit ahead of schedule since we typically don’t put the warm season crops in the ground until around the 20th or so of May.  However with no freezing weather in the long term forecast we’ve already transplanted summer squash, eggplants and peppers.  But we ran out of time before the rain moved in on Monday so we still have quite a few plants left to transplant.  Looking at the forecast it most likely won’t be until sometime later next week before we can get back into the field.  And by then we will be battling weeds up to our knees!

In the mean time we have been working on a huge remodeling project.  When we bought the farm earlier this century it had a pole barn that previous owners had converted to a living space.  Our remodel project is to turn some of this living space back into a pole barn for washing, packing and storing the veggies.  It has been a ongoing project for many years with changes and additions as we gain experience with those changes and additions.  Trying to retrofit an existing space for a specific need can be challenging.

With last season’s changes we felt we spent too much energy moving produce from the cooler to the packing area then back to the cooler.  The reason for the long round trip was the number of walls and doors between the two areas.  The space near the cooler wasn’t large enough to work as a packing space so this year’s project is to remove these walls to open up a larger space thus reducing our veggies travel time to just a few steps.  In addition, removing these walls opens up access to a floor drain we can use to more easily mop and squeegee the floor plus a dedicated sink for washing hands.  That is a lot of winning!

It will take a couple more days to complete the project but with the amount of rain we’ve had this week plus the forecast for more rain this weekend I think we will be looking for indoor work for a few more days.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

 

Indoor Farming

The tomatoes in the hoop house were starting to get a bit unruly so we needed to instill some discipline yesterday.  The story follows these all important messages.

We are still taking VeggieShare orders.  I am wonderfully surprised at the number of recent sales many of which were referrals!  But we aren’t done yet.  We are 85% of the way to our goal so please keep spreading the word.  And if you are reading this and haven’t signed up yet please do soon before we run out of shares!

We are also still taking orders for most everything else like fruit, cheese, meateggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share.  SalmonShare deadline is May 15th.  MeatShare deadline is May 31st.

Here is the paragraph from the last newsletter where I mention we are looking for help:  We are still looking for someone to work here this season.  Since it is the same job as last season I will just link to last season’s job posting.  Preference will be given to applicants who can commit to the whole season (May through October) and can work normal business hours (7:30 am to 3:30 pm M-F).  However if you can’t commit to these requests please still apply since we haven’t found anyone yet who can.

The Potato Planting Party was a great success!  Sorry you all couldn’t make it.

Please pay for your shares in a timely manner!  If you don’t know whether you owe money please contact me and I will fill you in.  We don’t customarily send out invoices.  That would be too 20th century.

Herb plants will be ready to pick-up on Monday May 15th.  We’ll have them sitting in the normal pick-up area.  You can grab them at your convenience (on or after May 15th).  They will be labeled with your name.

Now back to the story.

Over the years we’ve tried many different different ways to grow tomatoes.  Tomatoes are one of the most difficult veggies for us to grow.  They are very susceptible to diseases.  They tend to be gangly and out of control.  They are not frost tolerant at all.  The stems can’t hold up the fruit.  They don’t store well nor ship well.  All-in-all just a terrible veggie to grow — but also one of the most popular!  Who doesn’t like tomatoes?  Actually there are a few of you out there, which reminds me of a story from very early in our farm’s existence.

One day during on-farm pick-up I noticed a couple skipping over the tomatoes when they were grabbing their veggies.  I asked them, “Why are you not taking your tomatoes?”  They replied, “We hate tomatoes.  We hate them enough that whenever we eat in a restaurant we ask that they not be added to our meals.”  My reply went something like, “Well, you’ve never tried these tomatoes.  You might as well take them and give them a try.  You already paid for them!”  They were skeptical but to stop me from pestering them they took their tomatoes — probably somewhere around six pounds of tomatoes.  The next week when they returned I asked them if they liked the tomatoes.  They responded, “Not only did we like them but we ate all of them the first night!”  Of course the moral of the story is if you don’t like tomatoes hope that when you first try ours you don’t have six pounds to consume in one night.

But back to our original story.  After trying various ways to keep tomatoes from getting diseased we’ve resorted to caging and housing them.  No more free-range tomatoes.  They just get into too much trouble when allowed to roam freely.  Earlier this Spring we planted the tomatoes in the hoop house.  We also laid landscape fabric to keep the weeds down and drip tape for irrigation.This week we are surrounding them with cages.  All of this effort takes a considerable amount of time.  But after a good soaking rain we had the night before this was the perfect time for us to get this project started.  Nothing like a bit of indoor farming to get the sweat going.

As always, do not hesitate to send in your questions, comments suggestions, jokes, etc.  And don’t hesitate to give the tomatoes a try once we start harvesting them later this summer.

 

Potato Planting Party


The weather looks good for planting potatoes on Saturday, April 29 from 1:00 until done (check the web site before coming out still though)!  We could use all the help we can get.  There is a small window of dry weather today through late Saturday/early Sunday before another round of wet weather moves in.  We’d love to get all the potatoes planted before this next wave of rain.  So if you can come out and lend a hand please do so.  All physical abilities welcome.  All ages welcome.  Please let me know if you can make it out so I have an idea of how many people to expect.  This is a great opportunity to see your farm, meet your farmers and learn where your food comes from!

The First Sixty-Six Days

As has been customary since the Roosevelt administration, we farmers like to reflect back on the first 66 days of the current season to assess our success and use the information to forecast how the season will turn out.  Why 66?  Because that is when this newsletter is written.  If we wrote it tomorrow it would be the first 67 days.  If we wrote it some time last week it would be more like the first 59 days.  Sometime in May?  More like 75 days.  It’s not rocket science (rocket scientists of course would use the metric system).

But before we get into this season reflecting lets reflect on a few announcements.

Job Opening

We are still looking for someone to work here this season.  Since it is the same job as last season I will just link to last season’s job posting.  Preference will be given to applicants who can commit to the whole season (May through October) and can work normal business hours (7:30 am to 3:30 pm M-F).  However if you can’t commit to these requests please still apply since we haven’t found anyone yet who can.

NextDoor

We seem to have pretty good success recruiting new members via the hyper-local social network NextDoor.  If you use NextDoor and feel comfortable sending out a notice on our behalf please let your neighbors know about us (and include a link to our home page).  Since NextDoor only allows people in the neighborhood to join we need to rely on you to help spread the word — we can’t join NextDoor neighborhoods where we don’t live.  And if you see anyone request a suggestion for a CSA please point them to us!  And finally, if one of your fellow members and neighbors mention us do not hesitate to agree as to what a great farm we are.  If you don’t think we are a great farm then keep it to yourself.

Potatoe (I learned to spell potatoe from Dan Quayle) Planting Party

We are still planing on planting potatoes on Saturday April 29th from 1:00 until done.  We could use as much help as we can get.  We may need to switch to Sunday if it is too wet.  Everyone can participate.  No age limits.  No physical limitations either.  If you can sit and cut potatoes, we can use you.  If you can walk on uneven dirt, we can use you.  If you have small hands, we can use you.  So please let me know if you can make it!  And be sure to check our web site on Saturday morning in case we need to reschedule.

Order SalmonShare soon.  Deadline is May 15th.

Order everything else like fruit, cheese, meateggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share soon just so we have an idea of what to expect this year.

The First 66 Days

Here are our accomplishments for the first 66 days in no particular order and in bullet format to ease reading comprehension!

  • Greenhouse seeded (listed in chronological order) shallots, onions, green onions, leeks, celery, celeriac, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, Swiss chard, parsley, oregano, thyme, lettuce, tomatoes, flowers, fennel, kohlrabi, rosemary, more tomatoes, more broccoli, hot peppers, eggplants, sweet peppers, more flowers, more lettuce, more tomatoes, Napa cabbage, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, bok choi, more broccoli and more flowers.
  • Enacted eggplant reduction legislation to reduce the number of eggplants grown this season.
  • Transplanted broccoli, onions, green onions, shallots, beets, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Swiss chard.
  • Built a bench on the southern border of our greenhouse.  A big, beautiful bench.
  • Direct seeded snap peas, snow peas and carrots.
  • Brought farming jobs back to the farm.
  • Planted Spring cover crops of oats, peas, tillage radish and mustard.
  • Repealed and replaced our standard pick-up days and times.
  • Cultivated the garlic, onions and broccoli.
  • Made farming great again!

It has been a tremendous first 66 days and I look forward to the next 196 days!  As always, do not hesitate to send in questions. comments, and suggestions for the next 66 days!

Weather Delays

It’s a Start!

Who ever thought airline travel and farming had so much in common?  But first, some of the usual and unusual announcements.

Potato Planting Party!  Anyone interested in doing some farmin’?  We are planning on planting the potatoes on Saturday April 29th from 1:00 until done.  This is a great way to see the farm, learn about farming, meet your farmers and get down and dirty.  There are activities for all levels of physical abilities.  Plus this is a very kid friendly activity. Potato “seeds” are easy for little hands to grab.  So please let me know if you an make it.  The more the merrier.  Suggested attire: Farmer bibs and straw hats preferred but not necessary.

Order SalmonShare soon!  Our deadline for ordering SalmonShare is May 15th.  So if you plan to order it (and I highly recommend it!) please do so soon.  Get your omega-3s in a tasty, environmentally friendly package!

Of course you can still order most of our other items like fruit, cheese, meateggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share.  Please order as soon as you can so we can plan accordingly.

Please keep sending referrals our way!  And if you use social media don’t forget to mention us to your 1000s of close friends.  And thank you to those of you who recommended us on the request for a CSA in Woodbury on NextDoor.  We appreciate your support!

If you haven’t paid for your veggie shares and have not signed up for a payment plan, please send in a check at your earliest convenience.

I mentioned in last week’s newsletter how we re-accommodate our transplants much like airlines re-accommodate their passengers — though of course our approach does not involve blood, screaming and lawsuits.  Now the latest airline-like farm situation is our being in a holding pattern waiting for the weather to clear.  Throughout the month of March and early part of April it looked like we’d get an early jump on the season.  The weather was warm. There was little to no snow.  The frost was out of the ground early.  It seemed prime to be an early farming season!

But the forecast always had an upcoming short cold snap where we were reluctant to risk planting out some transplants just to see them freeze to death.  We’ve learned over the years that a warm March does not guarantee an always warm April.  So we are cautious.  And when we see lows in the frost zone we hold off knowing that we are still pretty early in the planting season.

Now it seems like the weather is more or less frost free — though we know there is still plenty of chance to get frost so no tender plants will be transplanted anytime soon.  However we’ve now entered a period of nearly constant intermittent rain (can something be both constant and intermittent?)  An every other day rain period does not allow us to plant in the field.  Unlike most airports, we need to let our runways dry a bit before we can use them.  If the weather is cloudy and cool it takes a lot longer to dry.  This past week where I had hoped we could get some early transplanting done turned out to be a bust — too many rainy days without much warm sunny days in between.  And the rain doesn’t seem to have an end this week.  So what initially looked to be an early start to the farming season is now looking more like a late start, though there is always next week to catch up.

As always, do not hesitate to send in your questions, comments, suggestions, jokes, etc.

 

 

Re-Accommodated

Due to our greenhouse being overbooked we had to re-accommodate some of our transplants to our unheated cold frame.  But before we go into the details, lets have a few announcements!

We are still taking orders for 2017 VeggieShares.  Keep spreading the word!  Referrals are always the best form of advertising and many of you have helped us out — $25 credit to your account for each referral.  We appreciate your support!

We are still taking orders for many of our other shares, like fruit, cheese, meat, salmon, eggs, ice cream, coffee, flowers, and winter share.  Please order as soon as you can so we can plan accordingly.

If you haven’t paid for your veggie shares and have not signed up for a payment plan, please send in a check at your earliest convenience.

Now back to our story.

This past weekend we were unable to get enough volunteers to vacate their spots, so we had to physically remove some of our transplants from our heated greenhouse to our unheated cold frame.  Unlike other recent newsworthy re-accommodations, ours went ahead without bloodshed, violence, screaming or virtual videos.  That’s just the way we operate here at Fresh Earth Farms!

So why are we re-accommodating transplants?  Actually what we are doing is acclimating the transplants.  When we start the plants in the greenhouse they are in a “plant incubator”.  It is warm and cozy.  They get filtered sunlight and plenty of water.  When we transplant them out into the field the temperatures vary wildly.  This time of year it can be below freezing at night and above 90 degrees at soil level during a warm, very sunny, windless day.  Plus the sunlight is intense and direct.  Taking plants from an ideal growing space like the greenhouse to the harsh elements of the great outdoors is a sharp transition.

So to prevent the plants from keeling over with this sudden change in lifestyle we give them a bit of time to acclimate.  The greenhouse has two layers of poly protecting the interior space.  The two layers help keep in the heat.  The poly layers block about 17% of the sunlight from reaching the plants.  Actually with the film being many years old the amount of sunlight blocked is probably closer to 25%.  Nonetheless, the sunlight is less intense in the greenhouse than out in the field.  So by re-accommodating the plants from a two layer structure to a one layer structure we acclimate them to the more intense sunlight.  Without this transition stage the plants would likely sunburn and get set back a few days or weeks or maybe even perish.

The re-accommodation also allows the plants to adjust to the more drastic swing in temperatures.  Inside the greenhouse the temp varies from 70 to 85 degrees (unless the outside temperature is above 85 since we use outside air to cool the inside).  The hoop house has no climate control so the temps go almost as low as they are outside and higher than they are outside since it is still trapping some of the warmth.  This helps the plants acclimate to their future location.

After a few days in the cold frame we re-accommodate them out to benches near the greenhouse to acclimate even further.  They stay outside in their trays for another two to five days depending on the weather.  If the temperature drops too low during this transition time we will re-accommodate them back into the greenhouse or cold frame overnight then re-accommodate them back outside to continue their acclimation.  Eventually they are re-accommodated out to their final resting place to grow into the beautiful veggies we look forward to each summer.  That’s a lot of re-accommodation without any bloodshed!

As always, do not hesitate to send in questions, comments, jokes, re-accommodation requests or anything else you think we’d want to know.