Category: Daily Quick Updates


The order for onion and squash seed I place with Johnny’s Selected Seeds came yesterday – 2 packet of Zephyr summer squash, and 1/4 pound of Walla Walla Sweet onion seed.

The Zephyr squash is an unusual hybrid straight neck squash. It’s yellow with a green bottom, looks like it was dipped in a bucket of green paint. I’ve been hearing great things about this squash for a couple of years, and having eaten it, I decided it’d make an interesting and tasty addition to the crops grown here on the farm. You can see a pick and info on it here at Johnny’s website – Zephyr.

The other seed I’m excited to receive is the onion seed. This is for Walla Walla Sweet, my personal favorite, and the variety I grow for calcots. I’ll be growing these for bulb onion, green onion/scallions, as well as for the bulbs that will produce 2012’s calcot crop. There are approximately 26,000 seeds in 1/4 lb. so as long as I can get the seed to grow, we should have plenty of this type of onion this year.

Out in the East Arena Garden, I dug up all of the Jerusalem artichokes and about half of the winter garlic yesterday. Yield was 10 gallons of Jerusalem artichokes and three 8 quarts buckets of garlic. The Jerusalem artichokes would have had a higher yield, these were from 40-50 feet of row, but for the predation from the land sharks (chickens) and voles. They were the reason for the sudden and full harvest. The produce will be stored in soil filled buckets and we’ll be able to enjoy them over the next couple of months.

The garlic I dug, for regular CSA shares as well as to transplant. I’ll wash and sort the stalks over the next week, and those ready for the shares will go into cold storage in soil, and the culls (stalks with broken tops, small stalks, etc.) will go back in the ground in the tunnels to give them a little more hospitable environment and to protect them from the chickens.

The microgreens seedlings are growing in the greenhouse, albeit very slowly. I’m hoping that they will be ready for harvest in a week, but it may be two weeks for things like the radish and buckwheat. On the other hand, everything in Tunnel #1 looks VERY good. I’m inclined to think that we’ll be eating baby greens from the Mizuna, romaine, and possibly the mache in about 3 weeks. It helps that the days are getting longer, and it really helps when the sun comes out to warm the tunnels.

And speaking of warmth, or the lack there of, it looks like we’re going through a bit of a cold snap, kind of. Forecast called for 30°F last night, it’s 37° now at around 7:00am. Tonight is supposed to be 23°, but who knows if it’ll get that low. Only time will tell. Drained all the hoses last night, turns out I didn’t need to, but I’d rather do that and have it not freeze, than not drain the hose and have to pack water the next day because it froze solid (been there, done that, got the T-shirt). Later in the week now, they say it’s going to be in the upper 30’s for lows. Suits me, the little seedlings in The Cube like that action….

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Previously on the Daily Quick Updates –

1/6/2011-

Hauled more hay today, 1/4 ton alfalfa mix and 1/4 ton grass hay. I’ll be picking up another 1/2 ton of grass hay tomorrow. That should have everyone set for another week or so.
Moved a set of plug trays out to The Cube – turnip greens and Lacinato kale. Moved the cabbage and mustard trays up to the top of the racks in the garage so they have a bit of light. They’ll go out to the Cube in the next few days.
The Red Russian kale I moved out to The Cube yesterday is looking good. It should be ready to go out to the tunnels on Saturday.
I should be moving the trays I seeded a few days ago out to the garage tomorrow or Saturday, and I’ll be seeding more trays in the next day or so. Watch here for updates on that.
It was a nice day out here. Mild, temps in the mid 40s. Cloudy, but as soon as the sun went down it cleared out. Would have been nice if the sky had been clear for some sun to warm up the tunnels and The Cube, instead of the fabulous star filled sky that I’m enjoying now, but that’s the way it goes….
I opened up the end of tunnel #1 today and took a peak at the crops in there. The mizuna and Paris Island Romaine are looking real good, in spite of the very cold (25°F) night time temps and cloudy days of last week. I should be harvesting out of tunnel #1 in about 3 weeks.
Got another seed shipment in today as well –
Reimer Seeds –
Carbon tomato and purple tomatillo seed.
Seed Savers Exchange –
Basil: Dark Purple Opal, Genovese, Cinnamon, Mrs. Burn’s Lemon Basil, Globe, Thai.
Other herbs – Garlic chives, Cilantro, Borage, Lemon Balm, Lemon Mint, Hyssop, Lovage, Bronze Fennel, Stevia, Triple Curled Parsley, Anise, Wormwood, Sweet Mace, Rue, Rosemary, English Lavender.

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One of the things I like to do for the CSA members is to vary the contents of their shares from week to week. This is a ‘duh’ thing, but I feel it’s really important. We all have our favorites, but too much of a good thing, even spread out over weeks, can get to be, well, too much of a good thing.

Making for a nice variety in the shares requires some advance planning. Trays needed to be seeded now for crops that will be harvested in March and April. So I need to think, what do I want to harvest the first week, second week, third week, etc. What will do well in the ground during those months, what will like the cool weather in March and April, and what will like the conditions in the tunnels May and June? If I want to include large pea greens in the March shares and snow peas in April, how far in advance do I need to seed plug trays for those crops? How many plugs do I need for each week given a full CSA program? Which tunnels do those crops need to be transplanted into so that they and their co-crops will do well when the temperature and humidity, day length, etc. get to their expected nominal levels for those months and will make for happy and productive plants?

I grow a lot of different crops and varieties of crops here, and all of the plants that are co-planted have to play well with each other. Temps in March and especially in April will be considerably different than they are now, or will be in February when the seedlings go in the ground. Even before that the crops will be in The Cube.

The general schedule right now for seeding, seedling growth/hardening off and then planting goes something like this – In the house where it’s warm the trays are seeded. They sit in stacks untill the seeds have germinated, at which time they go to the racks in the garage where the temps are 40° – 50° to begin hardening off. From there, after a few days, they go to The Cube, my small greenhouse. They’ll stay out there for up to a week, where they get used to cooler temps and sunlight. Then it’s out to the tunnels, where they finish hardening off and the survivors will eventually, when temps are acceptable, go in the ground. Each tray will be planted where it’s innitially placed in the tunnel.

Given these conditions, I need to seed plug trays for crops that can take the rough conditions, temperature wise, in January and February, yet thrive and be productive in March and April.

Figuring out how much of each plant/variety to seed is the easy part. Just determine how many shares I expect to fill for a given month, multiplied by expected yield per plant or cell of plants, and I have a rough idea of how many cells of each plant I need to seed in any given week.

But here’s the catch – some plants will be whole harvested, others will be harvested as a ‘cut and come again’ crop. For those harvested whole, I’ll need to determine what crops can go in the ground in their locations and will work well with their neighbors. So the harvested plant and its neighbors will determine what crops I seed trays for in sucession, as well as what the succession crop’s nutrient and other environmental needs are.

Easy work eh? But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

😉

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Previously on the Daily Quick Update –

1/4/2011-

First seed shipment of the year arrived. Now if it would be so nice as to warm up, hint, hint…..

On a weather related note, The Weather Cafe over at
http://www.ovs.com
says there’s a chance that the (comparative) warmth that we’ll enjoy over the next few days may just be a tease. We could be in for some pretty frigid weather next week. It all depends on if the weather patterns and preassure ridges develop like the models predict.

Regardless, I’d rather be forewarned, and forearmed, prepare for another cold snap and have it turn warm, than assume that things’ll be warm and then get froze out.