Dear CSA members,
Spring is almost here and the days are noticeably longer. The birds are singing again, and yesterday we were so excited to welcome the first snowdrops poking their heads out of the melting snow. We hope you are all feeling healthy and enjoying the change of seasons. We received lots of positive feedback after our last newsletter, and we are happy to be writing to you again, to let you know what’s been happening at our farm in February.
In a nutshell, we’ve been working in the greenhouse; Ed finished building the rootcellar; we finalized our very detailed soil fertility plan; we attended another soil health seminar; we finalized supply and farming equipment orders; we’ve been working with our two new interns; we’ve been looking into getting more chickens, and alternate sources of compost; and we’ve been doing the Storrs Farmers’ market. Moreover, we took the opportunity at this slower time of year to spend more time with our children, home-schooling, taking a couple day trips to museums, and teaching them how to cook.
If you’d like to keep on reading, below are more in-depth news…
In February we started 7000 onions and 400 cabbages in soil blocks, in our unheated greenhouse. They are taking a while to germinate at this time of year, but some of them are already up, which is very exciting. (The tiny green shoot in the picture at the right is an onion. It may not look like much, but for us, the first little shoot is always very exciting.)
Our fields are still partly covered in snow. Last year, we planted our first crops in the ground the second week of March, and this year we were planning to do the same. However, that will not be possible. To be able to plant, we need to wait for all the snow to melt, and then wait an additional 3 weeks or so, until the ground is dry enough to work. One of the worst things you can do to the soil is to work it wet, and we’ve heard enough bad experiences from other farmers to know not to do that. Nevertheless, we are anxious to get things in the ground as soon as possible. The way it is looking now, we will be weeks behind last year in planting.
We are hoping to have lettuces, radishes and salad turnips available for mid May, when our CSA begins (in addition to over-wintered spinach). In order for this to happen, we need to be able to plant in the ground by the end of March, so we are really hoping for the snow to be melted and the ground to be dry enough by then.
Soil Health Workshop
We attended a soil health workshop put on by the USDA-NRCS. We’ll be adjusting some of our practices based on the conference, such as diversifying our cover crop mix and integrating more animals on the farm, specifically chickens. It is nice to see our government doing something useful!
In addition to soil health
discussions, there was a presentation regarding how farmers in
Furthering the environmental discussion, we have asked a Uconn environmental engineering student to evaluate our farm. He is attempting to look at some of our processes and inputs, from compost to tractor usage, plastic for hoop tunnels, and water usage. This will be a starting point to see where we are, and what we can reduce. In addition, we hope to be able to compare our operation with other farms’.
Our second intern is working on an aspect of soil health. She is taking leaf samples and testing the dissolved solids in the leaf; this reading correlates with soil and plant health. For now she is sampling spinach and working to develop a baseline for future comparisons.
Compost and Chickens
Compost is an important
part of our soil fertility program. We are always looking for the best source
of compost, clean (chemical-free), and locally produced. Ideally, we’d like to
produce our own, but given the quantities we need, that will not be feasible
for a few years. Last year we used about 200 yards of aged compost, which was
trucked from Blue Slope Farm in
We hope we did not bore you with too much information. We’re quite excited about farming, and want to share that with you.
Peace and best wishes to you!
Raluca and Ed.