Wednesday, May 17, 2017

BGF News - April 2017

Blue Gate Farm News – Volume XXXII, Number 4    April 2017

Weather notes:
Precipitation to date in the past month: Rain: 2.75 and counting
Snow: 3.00"

What’s up on the farm?

Happy April from the farm! As ironic as it may seem, April 1st is an extra special day for us at BGF. It is the anniversary of our move in 2005 from big city (Houston) theatre managers to chemical-free vegetable farmers in Iowa. Isn't that the professional track everyone takes? So here we are saying hello to our 13th season. It is crazy to look back at all of the highs, lows and every-days of our lives on the farm. Thanks to all who join us on this madcap adventure!

Speaking of adventures and general craziness, we hardly know what to think of this season so far. It was one of the least snowy winters in years, with the snowfall in Marion County down more than 15" from average. However, as of last month, our soil moisture levels were right about average, due to multiple mid-winter thunderstorms. As of today, the soil moisture levels seem a bit excessive as we've had nearly 1.5" today alone. Luckily we got the all the field composting and the first round of discing done just as the rain/snow mix started last week. So as soon as the ground dries out enough we will be ready for the next round of soil prep and planting. We've got about 300 lbs of potatoes to go in and then the early round of sowing crops like spinach, salad mix, peas, radishes and other cool-loving greens. These crops are already growing in high tunnel #2 for our earliest harvesting, and they will be followed by 1-2 sowings in the field.

We had gotten a little behind in our transplant sowing in the sunroom, but as of last Friday are caught up again for another week or so. In the past month we've completed sowings on the following transplants: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, napa cabbage, kale, chard, head lettuce, eggplant, garden berries, peppers, peas, tomatoes, fennel, basil & other herbs. The earliest transplants (onions, leeks, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, kale & chard have all relocated to high tunnel #1 to make way for more heat-loving plants and to harden off and get ready for planting outside. So the biggest sowing push is done, with just cucumbers, okra, and winter/summer squashes left to come.

High Tunnel #1 is mostly cleared of over-wintered crops and we are renovating the beds for a quick cover crop planting to feed the soil followed by our first plantings of basil, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. The new High Tunnel (#2) continues to house our over-wintered beds of kale, chard and lettuce mix. The remaining beds were recently sown to succession crops of spinach, salad mix, head lettuce, choi, peas and arugula.

Even though it seems early to have some of these crops growing, farmers market starts in just 4 weeks, with the CSA following 4 weeks later. Things change so fast at this time of year, we go from 20° to 70° to snow to lush green grass, seemingly overnight and then often…it snows again. I guess it keeps us from getting bored or complacent. As I write this, the boy alpacas are standing out in pouring rain grazing, because that glorious green grass is just too tasty to wait out the rain in the dry shelter. If nothing else, they are ever willing to embrace the moment.

The bi-weekly VegEmail sales continue to go well. Our storage crops are mostly sold out, but there are plenty of eggs, fresh spring greens and herbs to come, with asparagus likely starting in a couple of weeks. If you aren't receiving emails about these sales, and would like to, please let us know. Big thanks to our hosts for these sales: Peace Tree Brewing Co in Des Moines and the Grand Theater in Knoxville.

We're still hiring! Our farm crew is filling up, but we have one full-time position remaining for the upcoming season. If you know of anyone in the area who might enjoy a summer-worth of suntans, whole body workout and bonus vegetables, send them our way! These are paid positions that start as early as mid-April and possibly go through late December.

2017 CSA Season
2017 CSA slots are also filling up. The Base CSA Membership is $500 for the 20 week season. Deposits ($50) were due at the end of February with balance payments due on May 1st. We will send out invoices for those amounts in the next week or so. We anticipate the first delivery of the 2017 season to be the first week of June, weather-depending. We do still have some memberships at all delivery locations available (Des Moines, Knoxville & on-farm); if you know of anyone who might be interested, please share this info with them. You are our best advertising.

Is a monthly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  You can follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm.

That’s about it this month, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue, Luci and Indigo)
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