Having missed all the rain promised us last weekend, we dutifully have been pulling the irrigation pipe and pumps around trying to provide enough soil moisture to transplant our vegetables into the field. We have had no measurable rain this month and it will have been a month this weekend (April 29 being the last one) since we have had any. It’s a real concern because the general lack of rain in the northeast will adversely affect us due to the lowering amounts of water flowing in the Connecticut River, a major source of irrigation water for us. So far there has been enough water in the river (the Wilder Dam and its generating schedule affects the levels of the river) for us to keep the frost off the berries, – it looks like we are due to get one tonight. So at least the strawberries are getting enough moisture. We continue to keep our fingers crossed for some warm weather with much needed moisture. And in the interim we will be trying to irrigate ’round the clock all that we do have planted to keep them alive.
To date we have our first tomatoes, peppers, and vine crops out in the field, courtesy of our returning summer laborers Geordie, Willie and Roy. These delicate transplants we put on plastic mulch and under rowcovers, which are those white snakey-looking things you see in the field. The plastic warms the soil and the row covers keep the air temps around the plant a bit warmer than they would experience without the covers this time of year. And of course this spring has not been without the constant buffeting of cool drying winds and the row-covers keep the winds from beating up the transplants.
The cool dry and sunny weather has been good, I believe, for greenhouse sales. Despite the fact that transplanting any plant in the rain is the best time to do so, we always see sales flag in damp weather. So the up side is that greenhouse sales were good over Memorial Day, but there are still a lot of plants to get rid of, ’cause those houses still look pretty full to me!
Dry conditions and lack of help have hindered us from getting our field transplants out in a timely fashion. All the rain promised last weekend by the NOAA weather experts ended up on the streets of Boston and left us high and very dry. A light frost event early(very early) Tuesday morning saw us firing up three tractors and pumps to protect the strawberry blooms. The upside of that was that they needed the water anyway, but we still prefer not starting our farm workday at 2:30 AM. We have been irrigating fields to get enough moisture in the soil so that we can lay down plastic mulch for our field tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and summer vine crops. You can monitor this ongoing process during the next week as you drive by the farm stand on Route 12A, as we transplant and put row covers over the transplanted crops. The row covers are the white tunnels that look like snakes in the field that modify the environment for the transplants and give some early season insect protection as well. We now are about a week behind on getting our field work done, but our H2A workers Roy and Willie are returning today and Geordie will be returning from college so we hope to start getting caught up. This weekend is the official Memorial Day Weekend as officially declared by some governmental bureaucracy that decides these things, like which day we would like to celebrate Lincoln’s Birthday on this year etc, etc. This means that the greenhouses should be busy, which is a good thing. Sarah, Anne and the crew have done a great job with displays and layout and all the colorful plants are looking their finest.
Welcome to the blog. The main focus is to up date all the CSA members as to what is going on at the farm. With a small CSA membership such as we had last year we were able to pretty much send e-mails with info as attachments, but I think this format serves a better purpose in that I dont have to spend any time trying to be an IT person sorting out PDF, DOC files etc to send to you all. It will be right here in the blog, if and when you want to read it. As always, don’t be afraid to contact us with questions or comments.
We are in the middle of planting season, and as of today (5/15) we are having to irrigate everything we either seed or transplant. The lack of rain complicates how we manage planting. We have to be extra vigilant in conserving soil moisture as we prepare for planting on our very light and sandy soils. Our labor force for the field crew is not up to size yet and our tractor tillage guy suffered some rotator cuff injury, so Ray, Mike and I have been trying to get the field prep done in between our other activities. The strawberries are just starting to show signs of buds and a few blossoms, but they seem to be sitting there sulking in the ground so we will provide a little bit of fertilizer this next week and turn on the irrigation in hopes of breaking them out of their doldrums. The raspberries wintered well with very little injury and the blueberries are starting to bloom as well. Even the peach blossoms didn’t get clipped this winter, but a lot can still go wrong with them before we harvest any. Keep your fingers crossed.
Plant sales in the greenhouses are brisk as gardeners have been taking advantage of the sunny dry weather to work in their gardens. Our greenhouse hours are 10-5:30 seven days a week except Sunday when we close at 4:30. The greenhouse crew has the houses spit polish clean and approaching full, and they are beautiful, so even if you are not an avid gardener you should come by and take in the different colors. It’s quite a sight.