The growing season is upon us, and in less than a week, we will be planting the first of the years seedlings. We have spent the last month finalizing our planting plan for the year, which is a prerequisite for placing our seed order. You may wonder, why does it take so long to write a planting plan? At over 60 pages long, it is a behemoth of a document, that contains every crop type, variety, amounts to be planted, when to start transplants in the nursery, when to plant in the field, what spacing to use, when harvest will begin, and in what csa season it will be offered. The next step is translating all of that data into a spreadsheet which will allow us to make a weekly plan for the rest of the year. That's right, by the end of the week we will know exactly what we are doing on any given week of the year...all the way to February of next year. It may seem tedious, but as we move towards our year round, never ending csa program (and continue to add even more variety), it is essential for success. Our planting plan also allows us to purchase the exact amount of seed we need, so that we don't waste money buying excess, and friends, seed has gotten expensive in the past few years, so we try not to buy any more than we need! Specialty varieties that have been bred to have a natural disease resistance are important on a farm like ours, where you can't rely on synthetic chemical inputs, and they charge good money for those. So, we start with the very best seed we can find: Johnny's Selected Seeds. They were leaders of the organic agricultural movement, and perhaps most importantly, they are an employee owned company! We finally got the seeds in the mail on Saturday, and at 31lbs, it was a behemoth of a package. It really is like Christmas for us; just take a look at all of these goodies:
Of course, in addition to new seed, we also have lots from last year that we purchased in bulk, which isn't pictured. We also have to order seed potatoes and onion transplants, but those wont arrive until the proper planting time, later in spring.
Dry beans were a member favorite last year (which surprised us), so we have decided to add a few more for you all: We are keeping the baking/multi-purpose bean from last year (Kenearly Yellow Eye), and adding a black bean (Midnight Black Turtle), as well as a multi-purpose soup bean (Vermont Cranberry).
We're pretty appreciative of the warm spell we had last week, and took the time to go back to check on the garlic, which is looking excellent. Garlic is planted in the fall, and harvested the following year. The purpose of this planting is so that the bulbs have excellent roots, so that they can produce the biggest bulbs possible. Normally the tops will grow a short amount during our mild Decembers, and then die back in the cold of January, continuing to work on creating a strong root system. However, these organically raised bulbs, which we purchased directly from a farmer in Pennsylvania, are exceptionally cold hardy, and still look great!
In addition to producing the traditional bulbs in summer, which you all are familiar with, this variety will also produce scapes, sometimes called "green garlic", in late spring. Scapes are used somewhat like a green onion, but have a wonderful, mild garlic flavor. Here is a random photo that Ive pulled from the internet to show you what scapes look like, as well as a picture of the bulbs before we planted them (which are representative of what we will harvest in summer).
We hope that everyone is getting excited for the 2018 season...it may still be cold outside, but each day is getting longer, and we will be seeing you all at pickup before you know it. Remember, the spring season starts on April 20th, so if you haven't signed up for your share yet, now is a great time! See you next week!