Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Apex Of Spring

Yesterday was not the warmest day out. A quick nip in the air on a light wind sent me back to the house to change into a heavier jacket. We were harvesting and prepping for yet another market day in the village. It turned out to be a great day. Sales of veggies and starts were both brisk. We took in a couple more CSA sign ups and in general had a great day. Despite the coolness, the sun was out. It was beautiful.

Yesterday just felt different. It felt like spring. Perhaps it was the length of the day or the slight hint of warmth or the flowers and new leaves on the trees. Or maybe the radishes or the new salad greens, the first cutting of spring sown outdoor greens we've had. I can't say. It just felt like spring. Maybe the buzz in town, from both eager patrons awaiting the opening day of the farmers market or the first honey bees I've seen in a damn long time. I'm not for sure. I don't even care. Spring is here and I could not be happier.

It'll be another big field day here today. Once again, sowing, transplanting setting drip tapes, field prep and getting ready for market. We are so fortunate to be as far along as we are this year. This was a tough spring and we pushed through and never missed a beat. I would like to offer a big thank you to Katie, Justine and Laura. You are the best!

Keep well,


Monday, April 28, 2008

The Push Is On

There is a whole lot going on right now. This week will be full of potting up, transplanting, sowing, setting up irrigation and laying drip tape. Also, the farmers market starts on Saturday! So in prep for that we'll be getting all of our booth display stuff dialed in. Tables, signage and what not. We've been selling in town on Tuesdays and we'll be there this week as well so we're pretty much set to go.

What will we have at market? That's been a big question around here the last few days. Things are growing pretty slow with all of the cold weather. Despite that, we should have a good showing. Salad mix, braising greens, rads, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, parsley, kale tops and a few other misc. items. We'll also have starts for sale. Lots and lots of starts. Tomatoes, greens, chard, kale, broccoli, herbs etc, etc. So please come see us at the market. We'll be there rain or shine!

In addition to all of this there is a great deal of ground work to get done. We are going to run out of space to put everything so it's time to prep more beds. Weather looks like rain. Trying to get out early today to plow.

We still have room for more CSA memberships Give us call or catch us in town on Tuesday from noon til four across from the green.

Keep well


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where Is Spring?

Needless to say I think we are all wondering if spring will ever arrive. This has been a most frustrating time for us. Opposite of last year which was tough because it was wet, this year is dry but just darned cold. The plants that we have out are pretty much just sitting there. In hind sight, we would have benefited from using row covers this year but I still stand behind my deciscion to use less pertroleum based products, especially plastic. Hopefully we can just link a few solid days of sun together before the market starts on May 3rd. If not, I'm doubtful there is going to be much fresh veg out there. The good news here is we escaped from any major damage from the cold snap we had. Some minor frost damage but I think things will recover OK.

We have been harvesting and delivering steadily since February and just barely meeting our production demands. As the season progresses, so does demand, so the tight availabilty will be with us for awhile. Please just know we are doing the best we can. The sun will shine and the bounty will grow. I know from experience that we will make up any spring shortfalls in a long productive autumn season. It is so much easier to grow into the fall than it is to have early Spring production. In the spring we're just fighting everything (mostly ourselves) cold soil temps, unsettled weather, wind, etc. Going into the fall plants can get established while it's nice and warm and then ease into the cold.

Here at MRF we pride ourselves on being the first early producers and going late into the year. So sometimes meeting with adversity is difficult to acknowledge. Best thing is just not to sweat it.

All of that said, The first tomatoes have been transplanted into the greenhouse. They are neatly tucked into their wall o waters and waiting for sun. My prediction is this year will be a difficult year to have success with tomatoes. I think we may just stick to planting in the grenhouses.

It'll be transplant city around here again today. Lots going on. We are close to having all of our available ground planted out.

Gotta get going here. Take care all.

Farmer John

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Snow Day

OK, it's the 19th of April and it's snowing! Cool. We had the best day yesterday. It's just glorious to have the greenhouses to retreat to. We prepped our first tomato bed, potted up lots and lots of seedlings into 4" pots and sowed about 40 flats of lettuce. It was actually a bit serendipitous. Sometimes things in flats can just go by the wayside. Spring is a busy time and occasionally we just miss the timing and let things stay in the flats too long and they pretty much die. So yesterday we got a good jump on getting starts into their new homes and avoided letting many of them go bad. We did a culling of starts that didn't make it too. We had a few things that we'll have to re-sow due to frost damage from the last heavy frost a couple of weeks ago. Especially peppers and eggplants. They really dislike this weather!

We have flats everywhere, including outside. We re-organized and moved everything inside for the next few days while this front moves through. we made tents in the greenhouse and have all of the tender plants covered in remay to protect them from freezing. Last year about this time we had a hard frost come through and take out quite a few toms. Hoping to avoid that scenario this year. Depends how cold it gets as the high starts to build and the cloud cover moves out. Keep your fingers crossed. I'm also hoping we don't get a hail storm today. I can deal with snow but we just put out about 400 broccoli plants earlier this week. It would be ashamed if they got hailed on. It'l be what it'l be. We have another 400 to put out next week regardless.

We're in full gear despite the weather. I'ts going to be an awesome season!

Keep well, enjoy a good book and cook some good eats!

Farmer John

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Move em' on out

This week marks the transistion into our selling season. We set up our market stand in town on Tuesday for the first time this season. We had radishes, scallions, kale, braising greens, spinach, eggs and a few seed potatoes as well as plant starts. It's a good PR move if nothing else and we were able to pick up a couple CSA members. It's a great feeling to kick off a difficult year with early market sales. Our tactics paid off. This was the first of many forays into town to pedal our wares. We are trying to show up again today. we have a big day so I'm not sure if we'll pull it off or not.

Finally we have plenty of bed space available and we have been transplanting just about everyday. Onions are in as well as the first broccoli, lettuce, and lots of other misc. green leafies.
Peas are mostly up. We did have some germination problems on one variety so I'll be re sowing those beds. The favas are really looking good. We have a new bed of radishes just coming on and the carrots, turnips and beets are all up and looking good. Those will all have a second sowing here in a few days. Things are growing slow with the cool temps but they are growing!

I'm a little nervous that we have not sown in about ten days. We have just been too busy doing all of the other things that need to be done. Those skips have a way of catching up and leaving mini gaps in production. We have harvest and deliveries to make today and the weather looks promising for town sales so we'll push for that. We can sow tomorrow, both indoors and out, but mostly in for one important reason. Our outdoor beds were just prepped this week. If I can let them set for a few days the first flush of weeds will germinate and we can hit them with the flame weeder prior to transplanting or sowing. This makes a big difference in our cultivation schedule, which is often our biggest challenge area. The key with flame weeding is timing. I missed being able to flame our new beets by just one day yesterday. They were just emerging. The prior day when I looked there was no sign of germination. So now we'll have to do it manually which eats up time.

This is also a very busy time for potting up starts. Broccoli, tomatoes, gailan and cauiliflower mostly. Some of those could go right into the field strai9ght from the cell trays in a good year. With the weather we've been having we'll take the insurance of keeping them in the greenhouse for as long as possible. The weather WILL get better! Looks like we'll be normal again around the 21st.

Irrgation is underway. Sorting and dragging drip tape. Yeah! :0( my least favorite thing to do.

We still have CSA memberships. Lots of teaser calls. People saying they are singning up and not following through. Come on folks, We need you now.

That's where its at for this week. Take care.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Suby Is Dead

Interesting week. The water pump went out on my big truck that I use to haul my equipment. Fortunately not an expensive repair, just an inconvenience to not have my rig for a week. Ironically the day the dodge is back on the road our trusty ol $600.00 Subaru wagon AKA (farm jeep) bites the dust hard. I think she's a goner folks. It's hard to spend more money on a car fixing it than you paid for it. That's a bummer. The Suby had shift on the fly 4wd and was great for loading flats from the muddy greenhouse access to the waiting fields. Oh well. Anyone out there need a Subaru for parts I'll make you a great deal!

More importantly, We appear to be farming again. We transplanted quite a bit this week and hopefully can crank out a little more today. Looks like we get one really nice day of weather and then return to gray, cold, dankness. At least one more shot of frigid air for next week coming. It'll be back to the greenhouse for us. Sowing more flats as we make room from the transplanting. Today will be a big tractor day. Scrambling to get as much of our remaining bed space worked as possible. Where is everything going to go? Always a big question this time of year.

The next big thing here is getting all of the irrigation systems up and running. It's quite a task and one of my least favorite activities. Life would be so easy if we just didn't have to water:o( Wah.

Farmers market starts three weeks! I think we are looking OK for product. The weather is definately putting everyone off schedule. The first market could be a "crafters market". There have been some unfortunate developments within our market this year. Few people seem to understand how fragile our farming community is here on Orcas. It would not be to much of a long shot for our farmers to basically dissapear. I have to say, I've actually considered boycotting the first market this year in protest and to increase the awareness of the role small scale growers play in our community. It would be a sad day indeed if one went to the farmers market only to find no farmers. But that's a whole other issue that is probabaly not in by best interest to explain here. I just want to grow food and that's where my energy is focused at this point. We will be at the market regardless. We need the the market as much as the market needs us. See you there.

Anyway, It's the beginning of a beautiful day. Take advantage.

Keep well,


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Talk about the weather

The weather forecast caught me a little off gaurd this week. I was expecting that we would be dry again on Friday. Instead we had a steady rain for a good part of the AM. Missed my field prep. Bummer. The extended forecast is'nt looking too promising either. Extended series of storms passing hrough every 36 hours for the next several days and cooler, wetter condidtions expected through at least the next two weeks.

An intersting side note here. The last week of March was the coldest on record since the 1940's! The upper level atmospheric condidtions have been much cooler than normal this spring due to La Nina. In fact the entire northern hemisphere has experienced cooler temps than normal. I'm betting it's going to continue for a bit longer.

So how does that affect us? Well, first off the ground temprature is stuck in the mid 40's (lower than normal) That simply affects how things will grow. There is less microbe activity in the soil at those temps so plants in the ground tend to just sit there. This makes them less healthy thus more vunerable to disease and pest pressure. The ground is still too wet to work in many places. That delays us getting crops in the ground thus setting our schedule back a bit. All in all not too big of a problem really. I take our flukey weather as the new norm.

Fortunately we did get some ground work done back in February as I have mentioned here several times before. It's been a blessing to have the space to put things out. Despite the slow growth, at least we do have things in the ground and they appear to be doing just fine. They'll pop when the temps do rise.

We are having to get creative with space needs in the greenhouses. There are flats everywhere! We continue to forge ahead with our planting schedule despite the fact that we are about to run out of bed space. Yesterday we hand raked five 100 ft beds and direct sowed two beds of carrots, two of beets and another of Asian salad mix. That was all the space we had. There are hundreds of flats that need space. Hopefully today I can eek out a few more beds even though condidtions are not quite prime. The Allis with some row markers will earn it's keep today.

Thank goodness for greenhouse's. without them we'd be sunk right now. The greens that are coming out of there are fabulous. The nicest I can remember. Radishes are full on and gorgeous. Shelling peas have just found the trellis and are going nuts! It looks awesome. Overwintered onions are beautiful and proud. Some great chervil also! Soon we'll be transplanting tomatoes into there. It's a whole other world. I just love being in there this time of year when it's all weird outside. Step into the greenhouse and it's all warm and calming. Odiferous too. It just smells.... green, you know?

All right. I'll hold it there. Shine on.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The broccoli is fine

No frost damage!

Patience Is A Virtue

Most of the farmers I know in this part of the world are feeling a little tried right now. Most of us have been set back or at least delayed a bit with the inclement weather. I don't normally get too excited or upset about it. I can't change it so I whats the point? However, let me just say... I'm ready for a return to our nice PNW spring weather! Farming is and has been on hold for the last week or so. The greenhouses are full full full. We are out of flats. We have tons of stuff ready to transplant but it's been too cold. We hit 25 degrees last night. Thats not really abnormal but worrisome when you have greenhouses full of tender annuals like peppers and tomatoes. I'm scared to go look. Last year we had a hard frost on April 20th. We lost quite a few toms that night. So this is all normal.

Hopefully we'll see some warming by the middle of the week and we can crank out some beds. That'll give us space to re sow more flats of whatever we need. It's time for flowers, more broccoli, lettuce, herbs and I'm at least starting to think about cucumbers, squash and beans. What about corn? If we do it, I'll start it in flats. Not for sure we have the space but boy is it good.

All in all we are ahead of the game. We've been making deliveries for a few weeks now and biz continues to pick up. The Farmers Market starts in one Month! We'll be ready, bigger and better than ever. We were on it when the weather was dry in February. All of the things we put in are doing pretty well. (even though they are not thrilled about this weather)

We have starts for sale. All you have to do is drop us a line.

Ok, So I just went to the greenhouse to take a look. Tomatoes seem to be fine. Broccoli is frozen solid. It may be OK. We'll see later.

Time to roll,