For most everybody in the Upper Valley, this is traditionally the big weekend to plant the gardens, although many of the more hardcore types have been pushing the envelope for almost a month by getting their perennials in, seeding their hardy vegetables and annuals while covering their more tender transplants from the frost. But if you need to follow a clock, now is the time to get the garden in. Here at Edgewater, as well as at other farms in the Upper Valley, the first planting of everything is in the ground. Because we are shooting for earliness, we oftentime make two plantings of crops you might not consider. We actually have two chronologically staggered plantings of cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and cukes to name a few. I usually make my last seeding of radishes the second week of September. Planting goes on all summer long with lettuce, herbs, greens and cole crops.
We closed on the purchase of the Putnam Homestead in Cornish earlier this month and are hard at work there, both in the house and the fields. We are going through the necessary electrical upgrades in the house and trying to improve some of the drainage about the foundation. As it is such a huge old house, windows need glazing before winter and that is being attended to on rainy days when George isn,t mowing or having field tillage to attend to. The fields, which haven’t been plowed in anyone’s recent memory, have been turned over and the ancient sod broken. Wood ash is being imported to correct the PH of some of the field as well as raise potassium levels, lime will be used on other blocks. The MacNamara family is growing fodder corn on some of the acreage, while we retain over half of the tillable land to cover-crop and perhaps actually plant to vegetables as early as spring of 2013. In any case, the new property is another task to integrate, figure out and manage. So far, so good.
We seem to be getting more calls about U-Pick strawberries earlier in the year, with more frequency, than ever before. This illustrates the huge disconnect that the average population has with its local food system despite all the recent press of the last couple of years. The earliest call that I ever answered was from a woman who wanted to pick berries the third week in April. It was three years ago, it was the first day that our greenhouses were open for the season, and there were still chunks of ice on the river bank. In the “old days’ we used to notify one another (the other Upper Valley berry growers) to see who would have that first ridiculous call among us and I am now the record holder. But now it is very routine to field e-mails or calls from people who want to pick berries in early May. In discussing it with other growers the consensus was that if people never grow a garden and they see Mr. Driscoll’s California strawberries in the market all winter long, consumers naturally would question why wouldn’t they be available locally in April? Winter is over , isn’t it?