Late Winter

Well. Below you can see a triptych time-sequence of the new hoophouse and greenhouse, from top to bottom: Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning, and Wednesday morning. That was quite a storm! The gothic (pointed gable) structure of these new, large structures, sheds snow fairly effectively. You can see in the bottom image that most of the snow has slid off the roof and piled up at the sides. 

We do, however, have some smaller hoophouses in the back field that cannot support snow loads, and we have had to clean them off during and after storms before. Fortunately, on Monday afternoon, we figured out how to get the plastic off of them while one side (the shady side) was still frozen to the ground. Huzzah! So we saved ourselves many hours of shoveling and brushing off snow.  

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Despite the weather, things are growing in the greenhouse! The herbs that we started propagating a couple of weeks ago have already rooted, for the most part. Once they have put out roots, we can take them out from under the table and let them have a little more light. More light will encourage them to grow new leaves, now that they have roots and can draw nutrients and water from the soil. 

Our first round of spinach of 2017 is just about ready to be transplanted. It will be going in the second bed from the left in the photo below. The third bed from the left you can see is covered in landscaped fabric. We cut the mustard greens that were in that bed several times for market until they were getting a little tired. We then cut the remainder and fed them to the ducks (who were delighted to get greens at this time of year!). After that we covered the bed with landscape fabric and lightly watered it - this is a method of no-till weeding and bed renovation made popular by a Canadian farmer named Jean-Martin Fortier.  

In occultation, what you want to happen is this: the landscape fabric and watering warm and moisten the soil, which encourages the decomposition of the mustard green stems and roots, and which encourages weed seeds to germinate; the mustard greens continue to decay, and the weed seeds germinate, but because there is no light, they die and decay as well; then you can remove the landscape fabric and transplant directly into the bed. No rototilling, no forking, no weeding. Theoretically. We'll let you know how it goes!

See you at market!

-Ailish

A Taste of What's to Come

Did anyone else feel like May or June had come to visit this week? In the greenhouse on Tuesday I had to stop working and look desperately for my summer boots because my feet were so hot in my winter boots.

But I was in the greenhouse! Starting seeds! It's one of the most exciting times of the year, when the small act of planting seeds in the greenhouse promises (literally) tons of bounty to come. We seeded all of our onions, leeks, and shallots - they require long growing seasons, so we have to start them now in order to harvest them in August, September, and October. We have also started rounds of spring greens - lettuce and spinach, arugula and mustard. Look for those to start appearing at the market in a month or so. 

The warm winter meant that the rosemary I have planted in one of our high tunnels stayed quite healthy, and we were also able to start propagating rosemary cuttings this week. Rosemary is in the mint family (which roots from cuttings well), but it takes longer than mint to put out roots - about 3 weeks to a month. Mint will put out new roots in days! It will probably take these rosemary seedlings about two months to grow big enough to sell at market. 

We are trying an experiment with our mushroom logs. We have taken a stack of logs that put out its first mushrooms last year, so they should still have plenty of fruiting to do, and put them in the greenhouse. We will shade them there and water them well, with hope forcing them to fruit in the next week or two!

Our featured recipe this week is a Chile-brined Fresh Ham. Ben followed the recipe almost to the letter, so instead of rewriting our own version, I will just direct you to the original. The one change we made was to use 3 tablespoons of our own dried chili powder instead of fresh chiles, however, our frozen Krimzon Lee chiles would be a good medium-heat subsitute for the serranos. We will bring copies of the recipe to market.

See you at market!

-Ailish