Blue Gate Farm News – Volume XXXII, Number 3 – March 2017
Precipitation to date in the past month: Rain/Sleet/Hail: 0.25"
What’s up on the farm?
Happy March from the farm! Boy, this one came in like a lion for sure, within 48 hours we had nearly 70° temperatures, then rain and hail followed by snow and a chilly 14° low. These swings all month have really thrown the plant life into a tizzy. The fruit trees are starting to break bud and some of our winter greens are bolting, which is rather unusual for Feb/early March. We are having a hard time keeping the high tunnels cool enough for these greens. Guess it's time to start sowing for spring crops.
Speaking of sowing crops, the annual "race-to-sow-all-the-things" has begun. So far I've started four kinds of onions, leeks, two varieties of shallots, two types of edible flowers and long season herbs. The big push starts this week with the seeding of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Napa cabbage, chard, kale, head lettuce, eggplant, hot & sweet peppers and snow & snap peas. Whew! Before long the sunroom (our plant nursery) is going to take on Midwestern jungle status. In preparation for all the planting, I had to dig in and finish all our garden maps. They were well underway, but I'm still trying to come to terms with the new gardens that we started adding to the east and the transition has been a lot to wrap my head around. It is a relief to finally get it all down in print, at least for now. Changes/updates are a given.
So let's talk about some of those changes we've already made, in addition to the new gardens. We are growing a few new things this year. We've added a couple varieties of cauliflower to the plan this year. They will take the Romanesco slot which has been a complete failure. We've got a few new lettuce varieties that we are trying , including 3 new head lettuces that we doing an "official" trial on for PFI (Practical Farmers of Iowa). We are hoping to extend our lettuce season farther into the summer with these new varieties. We have a couple of new tomatoes on the list, one new slicer called Pink Berkley Tye Dye that sounds glorious and a couple of new cherry tomatoes. There are also new varieties of spinach, onion, cucumber and pepper that we plan to try. I'm sure more will come up as the season progresses, but that is the bulk of the plan for now.
The seasonal chores continue to roll past and it is always nice to be able to check those off the list. We had successful controlled burns on a couple of our prairie sections a couple of weeks ago and also burned the asparagus patch. This helps control weeds and other invasive species and lets those areas start fresh for the spring. The next big task is to start clearing the spent crops from the high tunnels and renovating those plots for spring seeding. I was able to try out one of our new tools for this task earlier this week. It is a 1950's era mini two-wheel walking tractor called a Panet Jr. Super Tuffy and it is about the cutest little thing out there. We will mainly use it for mechanical cultivation in the high tunnels and its maiden voyage was an entertaining success. I'm looking forward to putting our two larger versions of the little tractor to work out in the fields this season.
The bi-weekly VegEmail sales continue to be a delightful success. Last week's sales were up 170% over last year's sale from the same period. Our storage crops are mostly out, but there are more fresh greens to come next week and asparagus will likely start in a month or so. 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 and the Grand Theater.
It hasn't been all work on the farm this month. Last weekend we hosted our annual High Fiber Diet weekend which included 20+ friends coming to work on and share knitting, crocheting, spinning, felting and other fiber-y projects. Oh, and food…lots and lots of food! It's one of our favorite weekends of the year. And there's more fiber fun to follow. We are currently ramping up our yarn and fiber production to stock up for the season as well as our favorite local fiber festival. Heartland Fiberpalooza is Saturday, March18th in Winterset. If you are of the fiber-y persuasion, come and join us. There will be fiber artists and producers from Iowa and across the Midwest. More info available at http://heartlandfiber.net/fiberpalooza/ .
We're hiring! We are starting to advertising for farm crew members 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
The sign up period for the 2017 CSA season is open. If you are a veteran CSA member and didn't receive a subscription email, please let us know ASAP. The 2017 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 mid-April. We anticipate the first delivery of the 2017 season to be the first week of June, weather-depending. We still have memberships at all delivery locations (Des Moines, Knoxville & on-farm) available; 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)