April is almost here and we're finally seeing some intermittent sunshine, between snow storms. As I write this, my view of the front yard casts a snow globe effect beyond the frosted window glass and I can't help feeling a bit apprehensive of what spring holds for us.
A reporter called from 93.1 FM to find out how a late spring would affect us financially and in terms of production, to which I answered; if the snow doesn't start to melt soon, we'll have very wet fields. And because our soil is heavy clay loam, drainage is slow and the fields will be to0 wet to enter with any cultivation tools, which we hope to do by the end of April, only a month away! Until the ground is dry enough to work, our seedlings will wait patiently in the greenhouse until their transplant date. But as that date is postponed, nutrients in our potting soil will become depleted and the transplants will suffer. There are things we can do as organic growers to give our seedlings a boost in this circumstance; we can add fish and seaweed emulsions to the watering can for extra nutrients until the soil is ready to take them but this is an added cost we hope to avoid. Currently, the only extra cost we've incurred is from having to use more oil in the greenhouse furnace. We're not used to dealing with -20 degree temperatures in March so the furnace is working much harder than usual.
The later we get the seedlings into the field, the later harvest begins which means we go to market later and potentially, the CSA is delayed by a week or two, but hopefully this isn't the case. The forecast calls for temperatures above zero this Friday so we're hoping the big thaw will commence and continue into April, bringing heavily anticipated May flowers.
So far, Jonny has seeded onions, shallots and leeks, as well as some tomatoes, peppers and sunflowers which we intend to sell as seedlings at the market. Of the brassica family, we will be seeding broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbages, kohlrabi and kale beginning in April. At the same time, we will begin our solanaceae or nightshade seedlings, which include tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. We will also seed herbs and a variety of lettuces - a different kind of lettuce every week, specifically for our CSA members, so they never get bored of their leafy greens!
This winter, we were nominated for an Outstanding CSA award by the Organic Council of Ontario! We didn't win but it was still such an honour to be recognized! After a difficult 2013 season, it has really helped to keep us motivated and positive for the coming season.
In less than a month, our employees will arrive and be ready to work and learn. We have a very busy month ahead but will keep you updated with pictures of our progress. Now come on sunshine, we're ready for you!!!
Inside the greenhouse: the binder with this year's plans tell us exactly how much and when to seed/transplant each vegetable, where it will go in the field and how much room it will take. This is what Jonny does during the winter months, lots of paperwork. As you can see, the snow has climbed its way up the walls of the greenhouse but is slowly melting away.
Onions are being seeded 5 per cell, as shown in this picture. Once they're bigger, we'll thin them out to 3 plants/cell and transplant them in a bunch which will take up less space in the garden and will be faster to harvest.
Apparently a farmer selfie is called a "felfie" - Jonny's really good at them.
The seedlings have emerged!
A week later!
The plastic wall allows us to heat only the space we need. We'll move it back as the tables fill up. You can see the spinach and kale growing underneath from last season.
The winter greens have come out of dormancy and are tasting pretty great! Hello spinach.
Bonjour chou frisé!
Our first harvest of the season.
To be continued...