Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #37, 11/30/18

What’s been going on!

Was Thanksgiving only a week ago?  Seems like a lot more living than that has occurred in the last 7 days!  We hope you all had a great holiday and are ready to go because here comes December and before we know it will be Christmas.

Some really cold mornings here this week in the low 20’s but we have been able to take advantage of the warm afternoons to get some seasonal work done.  A few weeks ago we planted the anemone and ranunculus bulbs into beds that we had prepared in advance, before all of that crazy rain.  Today we pulled the sliding tunnels over them to warm them up and get them growing.

Of course there is always some repair/maintenance that has to be done with those tunnels before we can move them.  Only 5 boards had to be replaced this time for the two tunnels but there will be more I am sure before we move the other four in March but for now everything is in good shape for closing things up tight when the really cold weather arrives.

Picture of the Week

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The new wood being installed.  This tunnel will slide off the lettuce and over the anemones at the far end.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #39, 12/29/16

What’s been going on!

Just a quick New Year’s Eve like note.  We will be at market this Saturday (the real New Year’s Eve) with Betsy’s first beautiful anemones of the new season and just in time for the celebrations.

On a sad note, one of our long time market members and bright light Louise Parrish passed away over the Christmas holiday.  Louise made deadly pound cakes and always had a good word to say no matter how hot, or cold, or wet, or windy or what other crazy things may have been going on.  She will greatly be missed.  You will enjoy this oral history about her done by our friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance

Picture of the Week

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Warm days bring colorful Anemones for the New Year

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #3, 3/13/15, Like a phoenix!

What’s been going on!

A week ago we were all complaining about soil so wet from weeks of snow and rain that many of the spring crops were in danger of not getting planted at all and certainly not on time but we have risen like a phoenix!

In the late ‘80’s and early 90’s we had many a wet spring and because of that we developed our soil management system so we would be able to prepare soil with only a few dry days after a significant rain.  With beds raised up in the fall, that drain fast, we usually only need three days but the previous weeks of sopping moisture that ended on Thursday it would be a test.  Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  Late Sunday we tilled up 10 beds in our only south facing field, which dries out first, for onions and some flowers, not bad but not perfect.

Monday was forecast to be the last dry day and we hit the ground running with our new all-star staff member, Lacy and one other person in addition to the three of us.  Three of them started with the 7000 onion plants while I prepared another 28 beds in the lettuce and spring vegetable fields, the soil tilled beautifully!

To have a break from the endless onion planting, after lunch they moved into the lettuce field and set out 4000 lettuce plants while I pulled out the seeder and rolled out 13 beds of beets, broccoli raab, carrots, peas, radish, spinach and turnips.  To top off the day we planted several more beds of flowers.  In one day we had just about caught up to our original planting schedule!

And then a bonus!  It did not rain on Tuesday so we were able to finish up the onions and get a few more beds of flowers and vegetables in the ground.  In 34 seasons we don’t think we have ever planted so much at one time.  It will not be perfect as to crop timing and we did miss a few plantings of the earliest things like turnips and radishes but we are much relieved.

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Happy onions

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4000 lettuce in front with seeded vegetables behind under covers to germinate

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Abundant Anemones

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #1, 2/13/15 A new year

What’s been going on!

They are baaack!!  Not like any kind of zombie apocalypse on Friday the 13th but the long winters nap is about over I guess.  We always feel that Groundhog Day is generally some kind of watershed date, after which the new season slowly begins to unfold.  Right now we are tending to agree with Punxsutawney Phil, more than his southern cousin Sir Walter Wally, that we are going to see six more weeks of winter.

The forecast for the coming week is really extreme, including the chance of snow next Tuesday on the heels of possible record breaking cold with high winds.  We are in batten down the hatches mode, covering and tightening every crop and structure we have.  We expect this kind of extended cold in December or January with crops that can generally take it but not mid-February when we usually do not see any more temperatures below 20 degrees, much less single digits (last night they had Monday morning at 9 degrees, they have since warmed it up to 14).

The greenhouse and coldframe is bulging with transplants waiting to get into the field.  We already waited a week to put out the first field lettuce to get past the last cold snap.  Sunday when it was 70 degrees we planted the first 1000+ lettuce, now we have it double covered as it really is not supposed to go below 20 degrees.  The place looks like a White Sale at Belks with so many crops covered with floating row covers.

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Lettuce covered in the foreground, more tender crops covered both inside and outside the little sliding tunnels

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The high winds make it especially difficult to keep covers on hoops over outdoor crops, Jennie resets the cinderblock weights for the billionth time

The real worry now is the anemone and ranunculus crops inside the sliding tunnels.  They look as good as they ever have but are also at very tender stages now that they are beginning to bloom.  So not only are they covered with row covers on hoops

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But for the first time ever we have run Christmas lights down the ranunculus beds, under the cover, to generate just a bit more heat right at the plant level.

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Every last trick in the book.  The result is there will be anemones for the Valentines Day market and it will be the warmest day of the coming week!

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #5, 4/4/14

What’s been going on!

Spring here is always herky jerky as my mother would say. Cold, warm, cold, warm and then all of a sudden it happens, not all at once but in a number of big steps. This week was the first big step. Finally a stretch of days (not just two or three) with nights above freezing, the soil temperatures warm up just enough that things begin to move. The red buds and the blueberries started to bloom, the worms are moving all over the place, the wild garlic starts to grow fast. The next step will be the dogwoods blooming, certain trees leafing out, ants on the move.

The farm moves in jumps too. Last week we were waiting for it to dry out and warm up, this week we are wearing shorts and setting up irrigation. It has been a careful dance this spring to try and keep the plantings on schedule but for the most part we have managed to do so. Now the rush is on to keep it all weeded and watered. It always happens this way.

Good week though as we have made the first pass with the cultivation tools across all the crops, great weed killing weather. The blueberries have all been pruned and a layer of mulch spread. The sliding tunnels have slid(?) and are full of tomatoes and cucumbers. Even the first Zinnias have been seeded out in the field along with the first Sunflowers, no turning the clock back now. Soon we will be covering the Big Tops and getting ready to plant the big array of tomatoes.

Winter schedules overlap with spring realities. Meetings, classes and other obligations that were made back in the slow days of winter now seem hard to manage. All day board meetings, evening classes, morning classes, conference calls are now distractions to what needs to be done outdoors and increasingly can’t wait. In another month even those will mostly be gone, the last big step into the full swing of another season.

Picture of the Week

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Happy Anemones and Poppies just raising their heads

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 9 #32, 12/21/12 Winter Solstice edition

What’s been going on!

First day of winter and it roars in with authority.  We saw it coming and harvested some things yesterday while the weather was more amenable and then covered everything back up as best we could.  Most of the folks at market at this time of year have the majority of their crops under some kind of cover either a high tunnel (plastic) or floating row cover.  It is the “floating” part of row covers that make it a challenge in high winds like today.

Designed to be light enough to lay on top of the crops or slightly elevated with wire hoops it also billows in the wind easily.  There are no fool proof ways to weight it down but the best is either mesh bags filled with large gravel that you can almost throw into place or our favorite, bricks.  If you are careful with securing the windward edge then it only takes a brick every 20 feet or so.  These 30 foot wide sheets have a way of gathering the wind and we are not the only ones to have one become airborne and then land in the tops of the trees where they can hang for years.  Hopefully it will not happen to us today.

Last newsletter and market of 2012 and it has been quite an eventful year.  The crazy warm winter and the continuing drought punctuated with both the record number of 100 degree days in a row and the Big Storm that brought the Big Tops down would be enough.  We also had major changes in our routine with the closing of Magnolia Grill and then bringing Jennie on year round and a shift to year round production.  Through it all you have supported us at market and in many other ways and we cannot thank you enough, it is what keeps us excited and engaged in what we do.  If we don’t see you tomorrow at market have a great and enjoyable holiday season!

Pictures of the Week

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 A blustery first day of winter

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Anemones warm inside the little tunnels

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 8 #1, 3/24/11

What’s been going on?

Happy Spring to you all! Let’s see, where to begin? How about this is our 30th year growing crops for all of you. There is a gravitas that comes with three decades of doing something that I hadn’t really thought about until speaking at conferences this winter. I kept saying this was our 30th growing season and the looks in their (mostly) young eyes was of disbelief or no comprehension. It is like the concept of a billion of something, peoples brains can’t visualize how big a billion of something is or maybe it is like sailing and the curvature of the earth makes it so your world is only as far as you can see. So far from this side of the curve, it looks pretty good.

When your life is measured in seasons more than time- this was a wet one, that was a historic drought, the Easter freeze, hurricane Fran, etc. Your perspective becomes how they compare to each other more than when they actually happened. We can say that so far this is starting out to be a really marvelous year, last year not so much. All of the crops look so much better this spring than last and as good a start as we have had in several years. The staff started last week and we hit the ground running with the great weather. The little tunnels have been slid to their summer locations and the first tomatoes are going in today! We are on schedule with planting and have already cultivated all the crops in the ground as the conditions have been perfect.

It was a busy and slothful winter with both lots of meetings and trips away from the farm, as well as time in the house with all the cold weather. A great event for the Southern Foodways Alliance in Tennessee in early January and then a return to Tennessee for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s meeting in Chattanooga, where I taught a couple of classes. The final conference of the season was a trip to Georgia Organics in Savannah where also gave a couple of workshops. It’s back to serious work now.

Picture of the Week

It is all about anemones right now

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