First sunburn of spring

Is anyone else sunburned yet? We are.

We seem to be entering a nice stretch of warm, sunny weather - it will dry out the fields so we can get in and start preparing them and planting in them. It is also great weather to pull out the first crop of spring weeds and let them dehydrate in the sunlight. We have been able to get plastic laced onto two of our three-season high tunnels so far, and we have two left to do. These seasonal high tunnels are the destinations for all the tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings currently crowding up the greenhouse - all those tall pots in the distance in the photo are one nightshade or other. We need to make room for four times that many pots starting next week!

We also use our two year-round high tunnels for tomatoes in the summer. Those are a particular high tunnel set up that rolls on a pipe track, so we can move it to different sections of field and get many uses out of it. Right now, one of those is covering all of our winter spinach, and the other is covering some early onions and spring spinach and lettuce (see below).

We are having a great PORK SALE starting this week. We have done this before - it is a $250 box of pork cuts for $200! In fact, we will give you 20% any assortment of $250 or more. And if you want to customize the cuts - contact us at whatleyfarm@gmail.com!

See you at market!

-Ailish

Days of Greens and Roots

Oh yes, and onions and squash and brussels sprouts. For the most part, though, we are only harvesting greens right now.

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Below, you can see Logan, one of our awesome employees, washing arugula, spicy greens (mustard), and spinach in the wash station. We have harvested all of our storage and root crops except for a partial bed of parsnips and a few beds of leeks. Both crops hold well in the field and they just get sweeter with the cold.

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We have had a couple of infrastructure projects this week. As I mentioned last week, we pulled all of the caterpillar materials out of their 2014-2015 locations. This week, we have been installing them in their 2016 locations. We are pounding ground posts, putting up bows, and fastening the bows together with a ridge pole (see above). Without the plastic on it to act as a sail, the structure is quite strong and will have no problem riding out the winter.

Also, Ben's brother Dan is here for a stay, and found himself digging into our other project of the week: getting our greenhouse ready for a new propane tank and heater to be installed. Dan's part involved digging a trench across the driveway - he seriously earned his veggies today. Below you can see Ben jumping in to lend a hand.

We will see you all at the Midcoast Winter Farmers' Market tomorrow from 1-5 pm, but we will not be attending the Brunswick Farmers' Market tomorrow (on the Mall from 8-2) due to cold, wet forecast and being short some help. 

We will be attending the Brunswick Winter Market at Fort Andross on Saturday, from 9-12:30. 

And of course we will have a bevy of greens, herbs, onions, squash, and root veggies to go along with all that turkey we will all be eating next week.

See you there!

-Ailish

Caterpillars

Not live caterpillars - caterpillar tunnels!

Clean up is continuing pretty rapidly this week. It always feels really productive when you move a whole bunch of stuff from point A to point B. This week we have been focusing on taking up the drip irrigation, black plastic mulch, and landscape fabric we use with crops that need extra heat and water (like tomatoes and squash). We also got the plastic off all of our caterpillar tunnels - those are unheated hoophouses that are (relatively) easy to move - where we grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. Below you can see some pictures of the caterpillars in various stages of plastic removal.

After we undo the wiggle wire that holds the plastic to the frame on one end, we have to be quick and get the other end right away. Otherwise, we have a giant sail (you can see it starting to blow around in the photo above). In the photo below, Ben is undoing the wiggle wire on the side of the end bow, and Willie is undoing the top (you might need a magnifying glass to see him). Then, in the last photo, you can see we got the first piece of plastic neatly off. Yay! It was only a little windy, so we were pretty lucky with all the pieces of plastic. 

Next on the list is taking up the deer fence (at this point in the season they just jump over or crawl right through it), and then moving the frames of the caterpillar tunnels to their 2016 locations. We will take the frames apart piece by piece, using the tractor and truck to help, and then we will pound the ground posts into their new location, pop in the bows, and stabilize them with the ridgeline pipe. Yes, it's that easy, haha! I will take some pictures for you next week.

See you at market (Today: Brunswick, 8-2; Topsham 1-5; Tomorrow: Fort Andross, Brunswick, 9-12:30)!

-Ailish

Clean Up

This week we have been doing a lot of field clean up - pulling out dead plants, stakes, and plastic, and either taking down our high tunnels (unheated hoophouses) or moving them to their winter locations. All those hoophouses were covering heat-loving crops like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and tomatillos; like many farmers, we try to rotate these crops every year for nutrient management and disease control. The hoophouses that we take apart we will store until spring, but we will put the ground posts and hoops in place - if we have time - which will let us get planting much earlier next year than if we had to wait for the ground to thaw to set up the hoophouses. 

The rest of the hoophouses we just finished moving over some winter greens crops - spinach, arugula, spicy greens - that we will pick all winter if we can. There is not enough daylight between now and February, really, for plants to put on much growth - all these plants need more than 10 hours a day of sunlight to grow. So, our strategy is to get good growth before November, and after that we pick from the dormant plants until they are too small for harvesting.

Another strategy we use to have greens in the winter is to grow some indoors. Below is a photo of our pea-shoots setup. We use fluorescent lights that have a daylight spectrum and mylar-covered panels to maximize the light the shoots get. 

As a reminder:
The Crystal Spring Farmers' Market ends November 7th; the Brunswick Farmers' Market on the Mall continues until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (November 24th). Winter markets will be starting up soon - Midcoast Winter Farmers' Market starts TOMORROW - Friday, November 6th (1-5 pm, Topsham Fairgrounds), and the Brunswick Winter Market starts Saturday, November 14th (9-12:30 pm, Fort Andross Mill). 

See you at market,

-Ailish