It is a beautiful thing to see green again! Old Man Winter really had it in for us this year. Needless to say, it feels incredibly good to get back in the soil. Sowing seed and setting seedlings in the ground to commence the 2014 growing season. This spring has not been the most accommodating, with frigid nighttime temperatures and persistent rains. However, we’ve been taking advantage of breaks in the inclement weather. Our early plantings got a little nipped by the freezing temperatures. Non-weather related challenges include a pesky groundhog that has been feasting on our vulnerable lettuce transplants. I cannot describe how disheartening it was to look underneath the row cover and see half of our first planting of lettuce decimated. Deep breaths and grace are useful in times like this.
We are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming harvest season, and hope to improve upon some shortcomings from last year. A few of those shortcomings were out of our hands, as weather and disease had a very detrimental impact on certain crops. We would like to see much improved yields from heirloom tomatoes, watermelons, and strawberries this year. Last fall we added elemental sulfur to lower the ph where we will plant the heirloom tomatoes this season. When the soil has a ph above 7 it severely limits nutrient uptake in tomato plants. The soil tests taken this spring show that we were successful in acidifying the soil to 6.79. Yay! Last summer our watermelon plants withered away before even getting a chance to set fruit after succumbing to phytophthora blight. This disease is soil borne, and is pretty much impossible to eradicate. We will try a different field this year and cross our fingers that the cultural conditions are more favorable (as in not raining for six weeks straight). The strawberries last spring looked so promising and then we got eight inches of rain right during their peak in early June. Maybe you should cross your fingers too for a little more sunshine in June.
We’ve been busy adding some four-legged creatures to our brood this year. Some of you may have met our new friends, Cranberry and Dark Chocolate late last fall. They are friendly Nigerian Dwarf Goats who are busily foraging on some unwanted brush for us. Cranberry had a beautiful kid, Breck on March 16 who has happily joined the crew — there is nothing funnier to watch than a baby goat leaping over her complying “uncle” goat.
Wanting no shortage of eggs this season, we added 150 chickens to our flock. Stay tuned for more information about our egg share as our new hens begin to lay. And, look for another addition, pigs, sisters, Betty and Judy (anyone else seen White Christmas?) who just joined us on May 20. That was an exciting day, one that was filled with surprises! Looking forward to seeing you on the farm!