Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #5, 3/27/15

What’s been going on!

Classic spring weather.  We were all set to plant the very early tomatoes and cukes in the sliding tunnels and then they dropped the low for Saturday night down to 22 degrees.  Nope, we will just wait until Monday to put them in the ground and will instead move them back into the greenhouse for safe keeping.  The floating row covers will come back out from their summer storage to cover lettuce and some of the flowers.  The only thing we can’t do much about is the blueberries that are beginning to bloom, we will lose some early fruit but not the whole crop as many buds are not open yet.

Cold, wet day so what is more perfect than to be in the greenhouse seeding the big pepper array for this year.  Painstaking and tedious, Jennie and Lacey are up to the task.  Keeping the 28 varieties straight and in the proper numbers takes patience, nearly 4000 seeds.  A few new interesting varieties this year including four special datil pepper seeds, yes 4, given to us by a fellow whose family has been in St. Augustine Florida since the 1500’s where the datil pepper has been grown by the Minorcan community since the 1700’s and is central to their cooking.  Each plant will have a name and armed guard.

Remember the picture of the Christmas lights in the flowers to add just a bit of additional heat when it got down to one degree back mid February?  Here are the results, lots of beautiful Ranunculus for now, Easter and later.

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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. 10 #9, 3/29/13

What’s been going on!

Jennie keeps asking “what is with the wind?”  I reply it is always windy in March, just the spring battle of the jet stream as it begrudgingly moves north.  Combined with what appears to be the 5th coldest March on record and it is irritating.  I think that because 2012 was the warmest March ever it is even more noticeable.  I always find some comfort in knowing it could be worse like 1960, the coldest March ever, when the average temperature was a full seven degrees colder than this past month at 37 degrees and it snowed 14 inches!

Big week, we slid the little tunnels over the beds that will be home to the early tomatoes and cucumbers.  With the help of a few students from the Sustainable Ag. Program at CCCC the six of us pulled the 16’X48’ hoops to their new positions for the year.  A week behind schedule but still OK considering the weather.  We closed them up tight to heat up the soil as much as we can before we transplant the tomatoes on Monday.  Always good to get that job behind us.

With the winds the soil has dried out nicely on top and it is a good time for us to get the first cultivating/weed control done for the year before we have to set up irrigation.  We pulled all the floating row covers off and Liz ran the wheel hoe through the first lettuces and spring vegetables.  The sad part is with little real rain in the forecast we will soon have to fire up the irrigation system.

The building project is getting closer to complete.  We passed all the rough in inspections and insulation is nearly done, the sheetrock arrives today.  Any day now Duke Power will show up to trench in the new power line and soon thereafter a new septic system will be installed.  A little sheetrock mudding and paint and we can call it done (mostly).  Whew, just in time for the busy growing season.

Pictures of the Week

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Liz with the cultivation tools, wheel hoe and stirrup hoe

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #8, 3/21/13

What’s been going on!

First full day of Spring?  We haven’t had a cold spring since 2009 and this winter/spring transition is really beginning to work on my nerves or at least my aging body as I just don’t enjoy working outside in 40 degree temperatures and 20 mph winds like I used to.  Probably never really enjoyed it but at least didn’t grimace as much when seeing the forecast.

The fourteen day forecast is for below normal temperatures (our normal high is in the low 60’s right now), come on.  The long range forecast for summer has us above average in temperature and normal or slightly below normal rainfall.  As discussed in an earlier newsletter this is what climate change is going to look like for us in the next 50 years, erratic springs but warmer summers and longer fall seasons.  This is where careful record keeping and crop planning are critical for successful crops.  Instead of saying “hey it’s warm in January I think I will plant early” and then it gets hammered we know from experience that we will wait and plant on certain dates, no matter the current weather, and the crop will perform as it should a high percentage of the time.

Fortunately we have hedged our bets and seeded the tomatoes a week later than planned and they will be just perfect to slip into the ground next week in the little sliding tunnels and the big planting the third week of April when we should be past our last frost.  This is the art part of the art and science of agriculture.

Despite the cool temperatures we have gotten a fair amount done these past two weeks.  The re-building of the Big Tops after last summer’s storm damage is almost done, just a few more hoops to put in place and new plastic to haul out and position, ready to pull over the hoops in a few weeks.  Planting in the field is on schedule, with more to do tomorrow before the weekend’s rains.  Crops look OK, behind schedule but the beets, carrots, turnips, peas and radishes are all up.  The big pepper seeding in the greenhouse happened Monday, all 21 varieties and 3400 seeds.  So on we go but we may skip any outside work today, too damned cold.

Pictures of the Week

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Cucumber and tomato transplants waiting to go in the ground

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Tomato trellises being built prior to sliding the tunnel over it next week

What’s going to be at the market?

We will be skipping market this week but will back for Easter weekend.  See you then.

Alex and Betsy

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