It’s Greening Up!

Wow! Twenty degrees warmer than normal temperatures leads to a quick green up! Now that we got a bit of rain the flowers, grass and everything else are really growing rapidly. The peach orchard is in full bloom and is absolutely stunning.

Our small greenhouse is at capacity with young seedlings getting off to a fine start. We needed to move the many lettuces,spinach, onions, boc chois, cabbages and kales out to the big plastic greenhouse in order to make more room for the next go round of seeds to sow.. Already some of these same young seedlings have made the additional step out to the transplant wagon so they can harden off a bit before being planted to the field. We expect to transplant them to the field this week if the conditions are suitable.
It’s good to have some rain. We just don’t want a whole lot at one time. The forecast is for hit and miss showers and maybe a thunderstorm this weekend. It’s a bit odd to think of the possibility of thunderstorms in March. In anticipation we rehooked the big water tanks up that are at the side of the barn so as to capture the rain water. We can capture and retain about 1,500 gallons in these two tanks and another 600gals in some smaller barrels under a bench in the greenhouse. This is a beautiful sustainable design. The barrels under the greenhouse bench act like a big heat sink that slowly can release heat throughout the evening helping to warm the plant roots and minimize the need for supplemental heat. This water can be used in watering the seedlings and also the red raspberries in our red raspberry high tunnel. Once the tanks are near full I’m ready for sunshine to dry everything off ! I would also prefer seasonable temperatures so I don’t have to worry that everything has to happen at exactly the same time. Lots and lots to do down on the farm.
Farmer Karen

Spring?

Is it Spring already? It couldn’t be more beautiful for mid March! Not at all like the last couple of years at this time.I sure didn’t miss hauling water to our free ranging chickens this winter! That was enormous chore the last couple of winters due to all the freezing temps. Come to mention it I also thoroughly enjoyed the break from snow too!

We have started many seedlings in the greenhouse a bit early this year and have gotten a head start in turning some of the growing fields as well. Usually in the Spring  we have to wait for the soil to dry out enough to do the initial plowing and even then might have only a short window of time before the next rain. This year we are holding off on preping fields not because of the weather but because we are waiting for some of the fields that were planted to cover crops last Fall to make additional growth.The many geese that call this farm home have almost demolished a few of the late sown [to cover crops] fields so it is good to see the rye grass greening up and speeding up growth to out compete the geese. The cover crops are a big part of our fertility program and though I would rather not have all these geese I realize that they are making their own contributions to crop fertility. We’ll need to discourage them before the food crops get going or I’m sure they’ll eat them too.

We have quite a few rows of onions planted and the garlic that was planted last Fall is looking great and making some speedy growth. We might even have to water them soon if it doesn’t rain in the near future.

As beautiful as the warm temps are it will make it challenging to prune the peaches in the allotted time. This is a big job and now there are many additional tasks to do because of the accelerated season. That’s farming for you-every year is a different story! Thankfully we have enough years experience by now to be pretty good at the bob and weave that keeps us all on our toes.
Farmer Karen

Join our Waiting List!

Interested in becoming a member this year?
Sign up now to get on our waiting list. Understandably,our former members have first dibs at rejoining again. After mid March we will open any available membership positions to those people who are on the waiting list. There is no commitment to being on the list and we do not sell or share our membership or waiting list with anyone. Since we have a limited number of membership positions to offer each year this seems to be the most equatable system we’ve come up with. Simply email us at farm@csachestercounty.com to get your name on the list. You can also let us know which pick up sites you’d like to be a part of. We’d love to have you as a participant in this wonderful good food based community!
Farmer Karen

Farm Show and more!

We started January off with an outing to the Pa. Farm Show in Harrisburg. Work share members Mary Ann, Denise, Jean, Mike and I all took a day for a farm filled outing and helped by volunteering to serve apple cider and apple dumplings at the Fruit Growers food booth. The proceeds from the booth go to apple research which is much appreciated since there have been so many cut backs in ag. funding recently. We especially enjoyed walking around the show visiting with the chickens, baby piggies and checking out the alternative energy booths in the trade show area. I highly recomend  everyone visit the Pa Farm Show next year and be sure to have some cider and a dumpling while you’re there.
The weather has been pretty good so far for pruning in the apple orchard so we have been pruning away. Pruning the apple orchard can take up much of our winter. We usually spend four or five hours a day working on this activity when the weather permits. Winter attire is a must! There are days you might not even recognize us in our multiple layers of clothing. We have lots and lots of prunings on the ground awaiting a stick picking up party. We will collect them and move them over to our bonfire location. For all of you who have been to the csa end of season bonfire celebration this is where it all started.
Afternoons, evenings and inclement weather are spent in the office planing for next season. After spending the mornings in the orchard I especially appreciate working in the office next to a nice warm fire in the wood burning stove.
Farmer Karen

What’s up on the farm- January 22nd

December came and went all too fast. Time was spent working on the new website,planning for next season,preparing for market, marketing our products in the outdoor courtyard of the Brandywine River Museum and much mechanical work. We had intended to spread compost under the orchards before we got into freezing, inclement winter weather. That is, until our skid steer[the all important piece of equipment that loads the spreader] decided to throw a piston.Like much of the equipment on the farm it is elderly and well seasoned. It had gone off in late summer to have an extended stay in a mechanics shop to have the cooling and electrical systems worked on.It was working great and we had just announced how wonderful it was running when the engine went. We are at least the second owners of this machine so like with any mechanical thing where you don’t know its’ history- stuff can happen. We quickly became aware that our manuals and schematic drawings for the skid steer did not apply to this engine. The former owners had apparently replaced the engine with one that was out of another tractor or ag. piece of equipment. It was reason for much consternation but after a lot of effort we figured out what we had and that parts were still available for it.
The big plastic greenhouse is a lovely place to work in the winter[when the sun shines]. It’s like a little trip to Florida to be inside where it’s warm even though it can be quite cold out. This is a fine thing when the alternative is to do mechanical work is in a unheated barn space in the winter. Anyway, weeks later and many hours of delicate work later it’s all back together and running like a champ! Many, many thanks to our good and talented friend Sonny!  If you’re at the farm when he’s there too please be sure to give him a warm greeting. We have so many wonderful people connected with us here at the farm – this is the community part of Community Supported Agriculture!
December is a time to give thanks for so many reasons.
Farmer Karen

See us in Chadd’s Ford

Dec. 24,2011

Come and see us Monday Dec.26th- Friday Dec.30th at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa. We’ll be selling our delicious fruit butters, a couple of different apple sauces[ watch out – they might be addictive] and our absolutely fabulous pasta sauce.
We make these products from our less than perfect fruits. Having a way to receive some income from our blemished fruit is a big help in permitting us to spray our orchards so minimally. [You can read more about our growing techniques in the Membership F&Q section of our website.Check out  1.Is everything organically grown?]  It’s doubtful we could afford to grow and market our fruit primarily through our csa without the income from these products. They are all delicious! You can sample them this coming week in the museums open air courtyard and enjoy a visit to a wonderful little museum dedicated to the art of the Brandywine Valley and NC and Andrew Wyeth.
Stop in and say hello – hope to see you there.
Farmer Karen