Current Projects and Tasks:
Financial constraints in 2020 caused us to delay seed ordering. It is a major expense for things like potatoes and sweet potatoes, for example. That meant we ran into the great veggie seed panic of 2020 caused by people locked down and digging up the back yard to grow veggies. This year our seed orders went out 1/10 for the majority of the seeds which were not already on hand. Interestingly, some seed which was on ‘the list’ was already sold out at the preferred vendors!
The greenhouse has been getting some upgrades and work done to broaden the list of veggies particularly for Green Season, but also to help the limited winter. Root crops need warm soil temperature to germinate. One of the raised beds has had 96′ of soil heating cable installed, which is keeping the temperature right at 60F. It is great to see beets, radishes and hopefully carrots popping out of the ground. The second important improvement for those beds is to bring in more powerful LED grow lights. Those were delivered today, and will be installed this week to the root crop bed. Our lower power lights work great for greens, those also will go in this week.
Cucumbers, Peppers and Eggplant were grown in the greenhouse in 2020. That actually was a bit of an issue in that they require lots of light. The greenhouse, oddly enough, is a shady area. The ‘CPE’ trio will be set into a raised bed with composting manure as a pre-heater in March. There also will be some determinate (not-trailing-vine) beefsteak tomatoes and slicers there for the same reason.
The Tomato varieties this year continue with the theme of lots of cherry varieties. There are a couple of new ones (Gold Nugget, for example) which have some interesting mixes of taste portfolio. The slicers and beefsteak varieties are increased – a couple of them new (Buffalo Sun, Buffalo Steak). The object, as last year, is to be providing Tomatoes in June. That is a big challenge!
Where we are going in 2021
The basic 3 season model from 2020 is going to continue. In 2020 the garden management had shifted from the well trained manager to ‘Farmer Doug’ – who had some hard lessons to learn. Most of those lessons are resulting in specific management changes. So – this is how it will impact our members:
- More choices: As the full variety list is completed there will be a similar ‘poll’ made available for particularly new members. Some items are obviously limited demand, e.g. Turnips. Some are high demand once in a while (Bonus Boxes). It is important that unless you are fully farmer’s choice that the items that are important because you want a lot or you never want them are known and in our records.
- More Herbs: This is a funny segment. Herbs are related to a person’s cooking palate; the basics of Chives, Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Arugula/Land Cress are going to be augmented with a more Fennel, as well as a few others. It is difficult to ensure supply when demand is unclear, hence there will be a special section in the choice field that tells the farm what you want and how much you want.
- Squash and Melons: Most of the main season members were not able to enjoy the winter squash. One idea right now is a ‘farm call’ opportunity for winter squash. The bumper crop of Candy Roaster in 2020 was a raging success, therefore the farm has added to both the varieties and the quantity for 2021.
- Price increase… yeah, it happens. It is necessary to hire some help in the coming year, especially at picking times of Wednesday and Friday; Monday is seeding and transplant day, so probably there as well. After paying $2.66 for two apples at the store, the farm price is a bargain. Personal Share boxes are effectively $22.50 a week, Full share are $32.50 both prices include deliver. Farm call is $20/week and $30/week. Payment by the week or month or season; full season payment up front is a 5% discount.
- Extended time out of the season: Last year there was an experiment to block out a large number of weeks for absence for one member. That seems to have been an okay thing, so it is offered as an option for main season only. The COVID lock down might even be eased up by then.
Winter Season (5-6 members only, personal share only) starts in February. Please let us know if you want in on this. Green season is coming on fast. When you tell me you want in on any particular season we will send you a ‘preference’ check list so that if, for example, you can’t have cauliflower in the house delivery can be planned for you!
The farmers here are both over 50 and in Ag, which should put us early in the vaccination cycle according to Washington’s plans thus far. In theory that means a level of farm visits should be feasible as the season moves into May or June. Stay safe till then!