Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #3, 4/5/12

What’s been going on?

One of those weeks when the whole body is sore after days of tugging and lifting and putting things together for the spring. One of the big jobs of the year is underway, preparation for planting the main field of tomatoes. Of course there are lots of steps involved in growing tomatoes that happen through the year beginning with soil preparation the fall before with mineral amendments, raising up beds and seeding the right cover crops that will mature at just the right time.

The week before planting would be enough work if we grew the tomatoes out in the open like most of the rest of the world with soil prep, drip irrigation lines, landscape fabric mulch and trellis construction having to be done first. For us there is one more job that has to be done before any of the above can proceed, covering “The Big Tops” with plastic. The Big Tops are our field scale multi-bay high tunnels that we brought in from England in 2004 to answer the foliar disease issues that were making it nearly impossible for us to grow tomatoes in the open. Named by our neighbor the first time we covered them because he said it looked like the Circus had come to town, not sure if he meant they looked like circus tents or we looked like a bunch of clowns covering them.

Every spring, a week before tomato planting day, we have to hope for a still morning to drag the 30′ X 100′ sheets of plastic over the top of the thirteen foot high bows and get them secured before the wind picks up. No easy task but with four patient people and lots of scrambling up and down ladders and tugging on ropes we can cover the four bays that are over the quarter acre in which the tomatoes will be planted. A perfect morning on Tuesday had us done with the job in just over 3 hours. By the end of the day tomorrow, all of the beds will be prepared and the trellises built, waiting for the tomato plants to be tucked in early next week.

Picture of the Week

The plastic “roofs” floating over the tomato beds

What’s going to be at the market?

The summer Saturday market hours start this week, we will be open at 7:00 a.m.

Next week the Wednesday market opens (3:30-6:30) with a cooking demo by Bill Smith of Crooks Corner followed by a food truck rodeo and fundraiser for Farmer Foodshare at 6:30!

The produce is coming, just a bit like milking a chicken. More Lettuce with Red and Green Leaf, Romaine and Green Boston. The first Radishes of the season. This will probably be the last of the beautiful Collards, small tender leaves in bags now. A few more over wintered Beets too.

Ranunculus, great oranges, yellows and other colors. Betsy will have a few more of the amazing Anemones that but they are beginning to slow down. Oriental Lilies and Pussy Willows too! Maybe a few more Viburnums. Of course plenty of sparkling conversation.

If you haven’t been there yet, or stopped by lately, check out the website and blog for lots of good info about the farm and what we are up to. You can also subscribe to the blog there and receive the newsletter that way, along with other updates.

Hope to see you all at the market!

Alex and Betsy

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