Farm Journal 4/4/2021

New in the Store front: Eggs (10 dz), SEEDLINGS! Produce: Kale, Sorrel, Scallions & Chard. Plenty of pork still available.

You can place your order here for pick up at:

The Farm this Wednesday 11 – 7

The Northside (801 Union Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15212) this Wednesday at 3:30/3:45

Where’s the Beef?

We found a box of Mild Beef Sticks with Cheese (kinda like slim jims) – now on sale for $10/lb

Also, to reiterate: We’re ordering two grass-fed and finished beef cows from Rolling Hills Heritage Farm. We plan to get a variety of cuts back, but will also have a bunch of hotdogs made for sale to you all, and for value-added sandwiches at the farmers market. Two cows will be A LOT of meat and we are offering a bulk purchasing option, like we had in the COVID times of 2020. For $200 ($8/lb) you get 25 lbs of lean ground beef in roughly 1 lb packages. We have 20 or packages available so order here to get the beef! Individual cuts will be available for sale once we get them back from the butcher. You will need to be ready to receive your 25 lb package on the day that it comes back from the butcher. We won’t have enough freezer space to store all that meat. We’ll keep you up-to-date as to the expected pick up date and time (most likely within the week of April 18th).

Field Update – by Jen

I’ve been busy in the fields, as there’s been, though cold, some nice sunny days. Several sections (8 x 50′ long beds) have been lightly tilled, composted, and prepped for the spring planting. In the sections that have yet to be planted, but are bare, I’ve covered them with tarps. The awning company who installed our red awning has piles of discarded awnings at their warehouse. In the spirit of “waste not, want not” we’re re-using the awnings to paint a beautiful quilt of tarps to smother the germinating weed seeds, prevent erosion, and keep our beds ready and waiting for the perfect time for planting.

If you ever want a work out – come and pick rocks! We use 5 gallon buckets of rocks to hold down tarps. How many buckets can you fill in half hour?!

We do have crops that are planted after the last average frost date (May 17 in our zone). We seeded some sections with cover crop in the early fall of 2020 with the intent of planting more tender crops in May 2021. They have a mix of rye, vetch and field peas and overwintered nicely. In early May, we’ll have to figure out how to deal with this cover crop and plant our tomatoes and/or squash. I’d like to decrease the amount of tillage and may attempt to lay down cardboard, top with compost, poke a hole, and plant directly into the smothered cover crop…. Of course, I won’t experiment with the whole tomato or squash crop – but a few beds may provide some enlightenment. I’ll keep you posted!

Good looking beds of cover crop!

I planted spinach and peas about a week+ ago and they have survived the cold spell and are growing nicely. I’m testing companion planting this year and will see how the two do together. I hope that the peas will grow fast enough that they provide cooling shade for the spinach, extending the harvest, especially if we have a hot spring. (Spinach abhors the heat). Companion planting generally works in the backyard garden, but on farm-scale, sometimes there’s not enough tending and oversight to ensure mutual success. Again, I’ll keep you posted!

Mammoth melting snow pea on the left and spinach on the right

I planted another 300 lettuce seedlings in our High Tunnel 2, and tore out the chard plants, which are nearing 2 years old. Chard is in the Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot) family and is a biennial, meaning it takes 2 years for it to bolt and produces flowers and then seeds. When plants bolt, they are entering their reproductive phase and in some instances, their harvestable product becomes inedible. The leaves get shorter and more sparse, they become tough and bitter. So… out goes the chard to the pigs and in goes a new crop for 2021.

My dad and Greg see eye to eye on lots of things…. for example, the value of a well placed whoopee cushion and mixing plaids.

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