Although more snow is on its' way, you can feel Spring in the air. Our field is thawing, we are seeing peeks of green revealed as the snow hesitantly recedes, and though it seemed unlikely a week ago, we're feeling optimistic about getting seeds sown in the field on schedule in the last week or so of March. I hear of farmers in New England and the Midwest complaining of it being too wet to get into their fields, and until now, I thought that maybe this was just an urban legend (haha!), but alas this is a real thing! A mentor farmer of mine that I follow says that this freeze and thaw cycle actually "mellows" the soil - it reduces compaction and breaks the hardpan, which then allows plants to send roots deep into the soil. This wet, long winter is such a good thing for our farm for so many reasons.
Today was a big day of seeding, and the end result is that all of our season's tomatoes and peppers were sown. In our cramped propagation space, Cale and I worked together in silence as we concentrated and paid homage to these amazing fruits that we both adore growing. This year we are experimenting with starting these crops a few weeks later than what we did last year. We start them in what are called 72-cell flats, meaning that there are 72 plants per seed tray, and in a few weeks we will "feed" these starts when we transplant them into two inch pots fortified with a new source of nutrition in the form of compost that we add to our soil mixture. For now, I will scrutinize every cell in the flat each morning as I water, looking for and hoping to see that first break in the moist, soft soil. And, then when I finally spot that first tomato and then pepper breaking ground, I will undoubtedly run into the other room to grab Cale, yelling the good news - all like it's never happened before. But you know what?! It just never gets old. Kind of like Christmas morning as a kid :)
This past week, I had the pleasure of inspecting another Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) farm here in Cedaredge. For anyone not familiar, CNG is a grassroots alternative to becoming Certified Organic. We adhere to the same production standards that are outlined in the National Organic Program (more or less), but rather than have USDA or third-party inspectors, we conduct peer inspections of each other's farms. While this helps to keep administration costs down, it has the added benefit that when you tour each other's farms, you get to learn so much! Although I was inspecting an orchard, the principles that I was inspired by can translate to what we do here. This farm's commitment to water and energy conservation were highlights that left me yearning to do better. What an awesome experience this is to learn, evolve, and grow from each other's farming practices like this.
From the garden, this is the week for greens! We are harvesting salad greens from a new tender bed, and they are really nice (did I mention REALLY?!). We also have earthy flavored, deep green gorgeous spinach, brilliant Bright Lights swiss chard, baby kale, spicy greens mix, and lovely head lettuces, including a few red butter heads. We also have some baby tatsoi heads. As can happen this time of year when the days become suddenly a lot warmer in the hoop houses, the tatsoi has decided that it wants to flower. So, we have decided to harvest this bed when they are small and tender. For those that have tried tatsoi, the flavor is the same, you will just receive three small heads rather than one large. We also have spaghetti squash (all right around 2 pounds), the final few (or couple) week's worth of baby carrots, a few dozen eggs, and the last of our dried chiles and tomatoes. The farm is transitioning to Spring, without a doubt.
And with this, we thank all of you for your support of our farm and for valuing local, organic produce. It is our great privilege and honor to be growing food for you.
In gratitude, Melissa & Cale