Saturday, March 27, 2021

BGF NEWS - March 2021 - VOL. XLVI, NO. 5

WHAT’S UP ON THE FARM?

Precipitation in the past month: Snow: trace x2
                                                            Rain: 1.55""

Happy Spring from the farm! Several weeks ago the weather felt like we skipped straight from February to April, but now that we are officially in spring, March has returned, in all her cool, rainy glory! The pastures are greening, the trees are budded and the garlic is up. 
Grow, garlic, grow!
We started hearing chorus frogs a couple weeks ago and some of the early birds have returned, like killdeer, meadowlarks, and turkey vultures. 
These past few weeks were a great opportunity for "plowing through" a bunch of annual spring chores around the farm. We got the majority of the fruit tree pruning done with just 3 big peach trees to go. We also got all of the field plots composted so that they are ready for tilling once they dry out. There's been a fair amount of reorganizing and generally getting things ready for the spring rush. 
We expect the seed potatoes to arrive any day now, so that will be the next big project as soon as we can till.

New crops starting in the big tunnel
The rainy weather is currently providing us with the opportunity to focus on indoor chores. We are pretty much on schedule for high tunnel prep. The big tunnel has been cleared of spent crops, composted and tilled for spring. New beds of kale, chard and lettuce were transplanted and are growing on nicely. Fresh sowings of arugula, salad mix, snow peas, baby greens mix and choi have recently germinated and are growing steadily.
Seedlings hardening off in the small tunnel
Happily we are also current on our seeding transplants in the nursery with new flats of: broccoli, cabbage, head lettuce, cauliflower, kale, chard, roselle, eggplant, peppers, fennel, garden berries and LOTS of flowers! We're already starting to play the vegetable farmer's favorite game, Transplant Tetris, even though the most cold tolerant plants have moved out to the small tunnel to harden off a bit. Tomatoes and basil are next on the sowing list and then things will really start getting interesting for nursery space. 

Now for a couple of BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS!
#1. Many of our local customers and members were kind enough to participate in a quick, one question survey that we sent out last month. It asked where they would like to find us and our products this season, either through the online orders of VegEmail, as we've done for the past year or back at our booth at the farmer's market. The response was overwhelming, both with the number of responders and with the answer. More than 78% of responders voted for VegEmail! Your voices were heard and that's what we will do! We are not returning to the market this season, and will continue to do VegEmail for the coming year. The winter schedule will continue with deliveries every other Tuesday until May. Then we will move back to weekly Saturday deliveries. That way if folks want to go to market they can just swing by and pick up their VegEmail orders on the same trip. We are SO excited to dive into the upcoming season with this arrangement. Thank you to everyone who shared their opinion with us!

Now, exciting announcement #2!!
"Pack your bags, ladies, we're moving south!"

Dedicated newsletter readers will remember that we announced back in December that we would be retiring from the chicken business. Well, the final date is drawing near, but many of our dedicated egg aficionados can relax because our flock isn't heading to Freezer Camp, they are moving south to start anew at the Ebersole Cattle Co! Yep, that's right, we are thrilled to announce that Ebersole's are taking over the egg business. For DM members, that means you will still be able to get your eggs along with your regular VegEmail and CSA deliveries! Knoxville members, we are hoping to help you make egg connections as well, those details to follow later.

And speaking of the CSA, we decided that we had the capacity to add a few more CSA shares this season and we are sending out invitations to our waiting list for the last few spots. Huge thanks to those of you who have already responded and an additional farm-fresh round of applause to those who have already paid (that helps us cover all those new seeds!) If you are interesting in joining us as a new member this season, you can email us at mail@bluegatefarmfresh.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.


Is a monthly 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

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 2021

BGF NEWS - January 2021 - VOL. XLVI, NO. 3

WHAT’S UP ON THE FARM?


Precipitation in the past month: Snow: 9.0"
                                                            Rain: trace

Happy New Year from the farm!
It was a quiet, snowy holiday season on the farm with only those who live here gathering to share the day in person. We did have Zoom Christmas with extended family which was appreciated and prudent, but not the same. We assume many of you had similar experiences.

The darkest days of winter are now past us and as each each day dawns we have a bit more daylight. The winter crops really appreciate the increasing day length. Crops in the high tunnel are basically held in stasis from mid Dec until about Valentine's day. Then they will suddenly start to put on lots of new growth. 
Winter VegEmail harvesting
This will be a cause for celebration for our winter VegEmail customers as we should have more leafy green crops to offer as the weeks continue. The chickens also slow down during these shorter days. We went from getting 12-14 dozen eggs a day for much of the summer to  about 2 dozen on Christmas day. Don't they understand we have hungry egg customers???

The seed orders are finally all placed and the new seeds are rolling in. This is a photo of just "a few" of the new seeds that have arrived so far. The potting soil (which was hauled up the hill in the sled) is mixed and ready for the coming season. We will start sowing the first transplant crops next in a few weeks.

So what else have we been up to in the past month? VegEmail deliveries continue every two weeks. There's been a fair amount of snow clearing, both mechanical and by hand. The high tunnels have to be cleared whenever there is a heavy snow, which guarantees snow-filled pockets and hoods at some point, no matter how careful I am! 
Once I get the January newsletter out (today!), the 2021  garden maps are the next big priority. The screen shot on the right is a quick glimpse at the plan for our "El Sur" plot, which is about 3/4 done. 
Other than that, we are attending virtual farming meetings, doing daily chores and playing in the snow a bit.

2021 CSA:
Veteran member sign up has begun. If you were a CSA member in 2020, you should have received an email last month with the details and a link to the sign up form. If you didn't receive your membership email for the 2021 season, please let us know ASAP.  2020 members have until the end of January (just 2 more weeks) to lock in their spots and then we will open any remaining shares to our waiting list. Huge thanks to those of you who have already responded and an additional farm-fresh round of applause to those who have already paid (that helps us cover all those new seeds!) If you are interesting in joining us as a new member this season, you can email us at mail@bluegatefarmfresh.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.


Is a monthly 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

Sunday, February 21, 2021

BGF NEWS - February 2021 - VOL. XLVI, NO. 4


WHAT’S UP ON THE FARM?


Precipitation in the past month: Snow: 21.5"
                                                            Rain: 0.35

Our alpaca bed & breakfast
Wow, what a month it has been! It's been a tough run on the farm but we know that so many of our friends both here and in the south have had it even worse. The deep cold sure makes everyone appreciate the return to more normal temperatures. We had 14 days of doing chores every 2 hours to make sure that all the animals had water to drink and to keep the eggs from freezing. 
Our hot water line froze in the middle of it, so all the water had to be warmed on the stove and then hauled out. It was a lot of trips across the field with the chore sled but everything survived so it was worth it. 
Indigo and the chore sled
The chickens were the least impressed with the weather and we went from getting six dozen eggs a day to a total of 5 eggs a day. Hm, that's not going to make anyone happy, but we expect those numbers to go back up fairly quickly as the birds regain some energy. 
Shallot seed germinating
                     
In between chore runs and heating water, we were able to accomplish a few other tasks. The first rounds of seeding is well underway and the earliest plants are growing. So far we've finished sowing all the allium crops (onions, scallions, leeks and shallots), the early herbs, a few slow-growing flowers, and kale, chard and head lettuce for the high tunnels.
Baby chard plants
 Next up will be the cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower ect. While we're not ready for spring yet, it is lovely to start seeing things grow again.

VegEmail deliveries continue every 2 weeks and demand remains high for local farm products over the winter months. We were fairly sure that the extreme cold would bring an end to our winter greens production in the high tunnels. In fact, we didn't even go in to check over the past few weeks. 
Finally, as the cold broke, we dug our way in and were pleasantly surprised. We certainly lost some crops but tucked in under the row cover there was plenty of life.  So more greens to come! Whew!

And speaking of things to come, a couple of notes:
The Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market announced this week that they intend to open on schedule this May with reduced vendors and safety measured in place. We are already fielding questions from customers as to whether we will return to the market or stick with our VegEmail deliveries. The answer is that we aren't sure yet. To help us decide, we are asking for your help. We'll be sending out a quick survey to our local customers in the next week and you can let us know how and were you would prefer to purchase our products in the coming season. Your opinion is important to us!

And speaking of the upcoming season, let's talk about the 2021 CSA! Our veteran member sign up has finished and we have started sending out invitations to our waiting list for the unclaimed spots.  Huge thanks to those of you who have already responded and an additional farm-fresh round of applause to those who have already paid (that helps us cover all those new seeds!) If you are interesting in joining us as a new member this season, you can email us at mail@bluegatefarmfresh.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.


Is a monthly 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

Friday, January 15, 2021

BGF NEWS - January 2021 - VOL. XLVI, NO. 3

WHAT’S UP ON THE FARM?


Precipitation in the past month: Snow: 9.0"
                                                            Rain: trace

Happy New Year from the farm!
It was a quiet, snowy holiday season on the farm with only those who live here gathering to share the day in person. We did have Zoom Christmas with extended family which was appreciated and prudent, but not the same. We assume many of you had similar experiences.

The darkest days of winter are now past us and as each each day dawns we have a bit more daylight. The winter crops really appreciate the increasing day length. Crops in the high tunnel are basically held in stasis from mid Dec until about Valentine's day. Then they will suddenly start to put on lots of new growth. 
Winter VegEmail harvesting
This will be a cause for celebration for our winter VegEmail customers as we should have more leafy green crops to offer as the weeks continue. The chickens also slow down during these shorter days. We went from getting 12-14 dozen eggs a day for much of the summer to  about 2 dozen on Christmas day. Don't they understand we have hungry egg customers???

The seed orders are finally all placed and the new seeds are rolling in. This is a photo of just "a few" of the new seeds that have arrived so far. The potting soil (which was hauled up the hill in the sled) is mixed and ready for the coming season. We will start sowing the first transplant crops next in a few weeks.

So what else have we been up to in the past month? VegEmail deliveries continue every two weeks. There's been a fair amount of snow clearing, both mechanical and by hand. The high tunnels have to be cleared whenever there is a heavy snow, which guarantees snow-filled pockets and hoods at some point, no matter how careful I am! 
Once I get the January newsletter out (today!), the 2021  garden maps are the next big priority. The screen shot on the right is a quick glimpse at the plan for our "El Sur" plot, which is about 3/4 done. 
Other than that, we are attending virtual farming meetings, doing daily chores and playing in the snow a bit.

2021 CSA:
Veteran member sign up has begun. If you were a CSA member in 2020, you should have received an email last month with the details and a link to the sign up form. If you didn't receive your membership email for the 2021 season, please let us know ASAP.  2020 members have until the end of January (just 2 more weeks) to lock in their spots and then we will open any remaining shares to our waiting list. Huge thanks to those of you who have already responded and an additional farm-fresh round of applause to those who have already paid (that helps us cover all those new seeds!) If you are interesting in joining us as a new member this season, you can email us at mail@bluegatefarmfresh.com and ask to be put on the waiting list.


Is a monthly 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