Got some spring gumption

This weather has been almost perfect! Sunny skies and crisp clear air pulls us out of hibernation and draws our attention to old and new projects. From cutting out stands of Tree of Heaven (invasive and a habitat for the dreaded Spotted Lantern Fly), to giving our newest (built in 2011) high tunnel a facelift, to spreading 24+ yards of organic compost on the fields.

The high tunnel that the interns christened as “Fabio” (it was the newest and most striking structure on the farm), after 10 years, has seen better days. It’s been out of rotation for a couple years as our free-range chickens were obsessively using it as their day-spa and enjoying multiple dust baths in my freshly seeds rows (not acceptable). No matter what we’d do, the chickens would get in and undo all my hard work. Along with that, I couldn’t get the pressure up for irrigation system to water the whole high tunnel – the back end would inevitably end up parched. I put that high tunnel on the back burner for a couple of years.

But! The time is now. We’ve stripped the weathered plastic off of the frame and have stumbled across a great supply of wire fencing: 4′ x 150′ with 2″ holes. This will secure the perimeters from the Poultry Bath Brigade! We’ve a pile of compost ready for the spreading, a roll of new plastic to put on (looking for a warm and windless morning) and then we are off to the races. Fabio will get a face lift!

Fabio’s old duds are getting repurposed for the two oldest high tunnels a little further down the row. They are shorter in length and stature and only need 1/2 the width of plastic that Fabio requires. We’ll cut out the ripped and torn sections of plastic, patch what we can and get maybe another 5 years of use out of the greenhouse plastic film. It’s heart breaking to ball all the plastic up and send it to agriculture plastic recycler, or worse yet, the landfill. I’ll save my diatribe on the Agricultural Plastic Life-cycle for a rainy day.

Garden Share UPDATE.

The seedlings are doing well in the basement and we are days away from the great Firing of the Greenhouse. Next we’ll bring the babies out of the basement and pot them up into trays and 6 packs for seedling sales and the loyal and adventurous Garden Share members. The first distribution of seeds starts this month, and the first seedlings will be ready for transplanting in April. If you’ve already signed up for a Garden Share, keep an eye on your inbox, as I’ll be sending emails directly and not through the newsletter. There’s still time to join!

Spring Soap-a-thon begins

Greg’s gotten on his spring soap kick again and is innovating how to go bigger! Some of you may have seen a stainless steel contraption behind the check-out counter at the farm. It’s a Tilt Skillet, which we’ve used for many things. It’s basically a large cook pot that we can do anything from canning tomatoes, to making sauce or chili, to now – making 30 lb blocks of soap. This was just a test run and Greg envisions doing a 120 lb batch of soap at at time. We’ve got that much pig fat ready to go. It’ll be a soap making marathon once Greg gets all the kinks worked out. We’ll keep you updated with a photo montage of process.

stirring and waiting for the soap to trace

CSA sign ups are open! Click here to join!

Feel free to sign up for the CSA . It looks to be a good year – and we’re excited to expand with a patch of Asparagus (won’t be ready for 3 years…. I know!) and Rhubarb. We put in a patch of Strawberries last Spring, so we’ll cross our fingers for a great first harvest and hope we beat the birds, bunnies and slugs to the first red berry of the year! We get our compost from AgRecycle each year and spread about 2″-4″ on each bed. It’s labor intensive but the results are wondrous. Well worth the time! We’re still growing lots of heirloom specialty veggies, but have also added in a couple of hybrids for some stability. It’s always good to have a ringer when the tender heirlooms turn into flakes.

Farm pick up is on Wednesdays 11 – 7 and City Pick up is at the Northside Market on Fridays 3 – 7. CSA won’t start until late May/early June. Keep an eye on these newsletters for the exact GO TIME.

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