The CSA has a continuous cycle of growing from seed to ensure weekly deliveries. The process starts with a set of things:
- Desired crops – usually this list has the seasonally important veggies by type, as well as the value, interest and the difficulty of producing information of the varieties. There are hundreds of varieties of most common veggies – Tomatoes are a classic example.
- Seasonal Constraints – The west side of the cascades in Washington near Olympia give you a baseline that says long cool spring, 6 weeks of dry heat, and then a long cool fall. Inside that are the typical bad weather tricks like the Frazier Canyon COLD blast in March or October that is guaranteed to kill almost everything.
- Soil conditions – the garden area itself has a distribution of soils – some high and dry, some low and wet, and a bunch in between. Watering and feeding and protection all need to be adjusted across the garden.
- Seed Starting – The vast bulk of our seed starts are done in propagation benches that have auxiliary heat and light because that lets us get a 4 week jump on outside planting, and lets us set out well rooted stock to start with. Seed starting is an every Monday job because plants have a maturation window. Some are “One and Done:” once you pull a carrot, there isn’t another unless it has been planted as a part of succession. Some have a window where there will be a first pick followed by additional picking. Usually the first picking is large, and the following aren’t as big. Tomatoes and Cucumbers are like that, also pole beans in some cases.
The planning cycle is built around four week windows and the knowledge that something will go wrong, which is where the cows and horses live in constant hope of overplanting. Cows: “Extra lettuce? NO Problem, we can take care of that!”