Thursday, April 16, 2020

BGF News - April 2020 - Vol. XLIII, No. 5

What's up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past month: Rain: 3.25"
                                                            Snow: 5.0"
                                                            Sleet & Ice: that too!

What a month this has been! 
Amid a world turned cattywampus with changes in nearly everyone's routines and priorities, Spring has wandered in from the south and started to make herself at home. That said, as I write this looking out at the rolling green pastures outside my office window, the first snowflakes of our next snowstorm are starting to drift down from the sky, with forecasts of 6-10". Sigh, April in Iowa.

This is the time of year when we really start to get our scurry on. Everything revolves around the weather right now. We need it to warm up enough to defrost the compost pile, then dry out enough to spread the compost and then to till and seed. Then we'd like it to rain enough to settle the seed and encourage it to germinate, but not so much as to wash it away or cause it to rot. Then we'd like some gently warming temperatures to allow us to transplant, and then again some rain. 

Just in case you are curious, this NEVER happens in an orderly or organized fashion. We try to be ready with each successive step for when the weather and soil conditions allow us to proceed but best laid plans and all that. We often find ourselves diving into tasks when the conditions are almost right, but not quite, and then doing them as fast as we can before the weather turns again. 

Tilling alongside the garlic planting
Freshly tilled El Norte plot

Seeding snow peas
In the past month we have done all of these things, and are mostly caught up to where we want to be at this time of year.  The compost is spread, the primary tilling is done and the first round of direct seeded early crops are in the ground, including: salad mix, spinach, beets, carrots, greens mix, choi turnips and peas. 

Thanks to my dad, we also got one round of oat cover crop seeding in before the 3" of snow a couple of days ago. 

The early high tunnel crops are mostly in and growing nicely, with just a couple more seedings of salad mix and arugula to add in. We also transplanted kale and chard into the big high tunnel, but the earliest field transplanting hasn't begun yet, hopefully very soon. 
Transplants waiting for warmer weather

The small tunnel is still the "staging ground" for all of the flats of spring transplants that aren't quite ready to move outside yet. These include cabbage, broccoli, head lettuce, cauliflower, herbs, and edible flowers. The sunroom is full to bursting with the warm-weather transplants including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, fennel, ornamental flowers, basil, celery and further sowings of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Next up are cucumbers, summer squash and okra. 

Back on April 1st we saw our first asparagus spear peeking out of the soil. That's earlier than average and we thought we might have an early asparagus season. Nope. The recent 20° nighttime temperatures froze off anything above the soil and set the soil temperatures back quite a bit. So the "Age of Asparagus" has been delayed a bit, but we still look forward to a season of bountiful spears in the coming weeks.

VegEmail orders ready for pick up
Our bi-weekly VegEmail program has been going like gangbusters with record sales for the past several rounds. Thanks to all our awesome customers who have placed orders so far this season. Armed with our new health safety measures and drive-up convenience, we plan to continue these deliveries until the DM farmers market reopens sometime later this summer. We  are so pleased to be sharing these deliveries with our friends from Ebersole Cattle Co., Lost Lake Farm LLC and Peace Tree Brewing Company. You can now order and pick up your eggs, veg, meat, cheese and beer all in one stop, and you don't even have to get out of your car! If you aren't already receiving our VegEmail announcements, you can sign up for them here: VegEmail

The 2020 CSA season is just about six weeks away and we are full! If you were hoping to join us this season, but haven't filled out the form yet we are happy to put you on the waiting list. Invoices for CSA balance payments will be going out in the next couple of days. A bounty of farm-fresh thanks to those of you who have already sent in payments!!  

**Now the big news for our CSA members!!**
This year we are partnering with several area farms to offer new options for our CSA members. 

Des Moines members will now be able to sign up for a Meat Share with Ebersole Cattle Co., and a Cheese Share with Lost Lake Farm LLC. If you choose these options, they will be picked up at the same time as your regular produce share.

Knoxville members can sign up for a Meat Share from Crooked Gap Farm and a Bread Share from our neighbors (and farm crew members) at Farmyard Fancies, also to be picked up along with your produce share.

We are so excited to work with these amazing producers to bring you more quality local products. More details to follow in an informational email to our CSA members, but we just couldn't wait to let you in on this new opportunity.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky