The greenhouses have consumed vast amounts of time over the last four weeks. As we open the greenhouses for trade this coming Thursday, we have additionally had to straighten up the pottery barn and organize the driveway and parking areas in preparation for opening. A few folks have already meandered through, picking up some lettuce and onions and pansies, but by next weekend we will be retailing in earnest. The temperate and sunny spring thus far has dried things up in the fields so that we are actually hoping to pick an inch or so out of the next forecast rain event in a couple of days.
We got underway with field work about ten days ago with our tractor guy, George Cilley, getting much of the winter stockpile of dairy manure spread and incorporated. Some chisel plowing, fertilizing and harrowing has been started and by tomorrow we should get a spring cover crop of field peas and oats planted on a field that will ultimately be planted to late fall sweet corn in July, when we incorporate those peas and oats. Although we don’t have any peas, greens, onions or potatoes planted, we should have some small veggies in the ground by mid to late week. Blueberry pruning is finished, the strawberries are de-mulched and Ray, Mike and Jenny have been laying out irrigation pumps and pipe in the strawberries, just in case we don’t pick up any moisture this week. People are working longer hours and the heat is on….
Well, here we go again. Yesterday it was 60 degrees for the first time since November. It felt great. A little too good, in fact, as the freshly transplanted tomatoes in the greenhouses wilted a bit, because of the intense light and heat inside the greenhouses. No complaints, it sure beats the ice and cold of the winter and the rumble of greenhouse furnaces burning propane. We had nine unannounced people drive by looking for jobs yesterday, indicated they were stirred both by the springlike conditions and a need to get some employment. What most folks don’t understand about farming is that farmers who do this for a living just don’t come out of dormancy like bears the first warm day in April, stretch their arms, yawn and say ” I guess it’s time to start growing something for this year..” We are in full swing this time of year, and do most of our hiring in February. It is truly a year-round activity for the five core family members here. In between dealing with snow around the greenhouses, there are furnaces to clean, thermostats to fix, greenhouses to maintain, hard goods and seeds to inventory, stock plants to maintain, field machinery to service and a mountain of paperwork that has to be dealt with that seems to get larger every year. The 2009 greenhouse season actually started in December 2008 when I took my first begonia leaf cuttings and geranium slips.
So now we are in the thick of planting season in the greenhouses. Perennials potted up, annual seedlings being transplanted, moving about flats of leeks and onions for the field and the first of the grafted greenhouse tomatoes planted. Mike, Ray and Jenny have pruned the finicky peaches and we have been pecking away at pruning the blueberries when we can sneak away from the greenhouse responsibilities. Saturday is supposed to be nice, so I am in hopes of sneaking off with the little tractor to beginning removing straw from the strawberries and rhubarb. Sarah, Donald, Anne and the rest of the crew continue to plug away at the mountains of trays of rooted cuttings and seed flats that keep appearing at the doors of the greenhouses. The welcome hum of activity is back after the dark winter.
Flavors of the Valley will be held this year on April 21st from 2-7 PM at the Hartford High School Gymnasium. For those of you who don’t know about this event, it is an opportunity to meet farmers, producers and folks related to the local food scene here in the Upper Valley. We will have a booth there to discuss with anyone interested what it is that we do down here and the products we offer. Drop by and say hi.