Summer CSA – Week 1

Heat wave. What a heat wave. We are starting at 5am this week to get produce in to beat the heat. I wish I could write you a more eloquent blog for your first share, but I’m running on fumes, and my normal 5am-7am office hours are now harvest hours so I can’t squeeze this in tomorrow morning.

We’ve got a great first share this week. Beets are in and looking great, cilantro, scallions, lettuce . . .it’s a great start to summer. Broccoli, peas and zucchini are just around the corner, and guess who else we will have extra early this year?

Yep, tomatoes! Our high tunnel tomatoes are doing really well, and I’d guess we are just 4 weeks away from our first tomatoes of the season, with many more to follow.

It’s starting to look more and more like a vegetable farm around here. Our crew has been working hard trellising peas and tomatoes, last week we cultivated almost everything we have planted. Our sweet potato slips are on their way here from an organic farm in Georgia and we prepared the beds for planting last Thursday, so we can put them in the ground as soon as they arrive.

And we got a new tool. The best tool ever, maybe . . .

We got a water reel. It’s basically a big spool that you park at the end of the bed and pull out a long hose which has a sprinkler attached. The reel then pulls in the sprinkler slowly, watering up to 60 feet to either side of the sprinkler on its way back. Output is up to 40 gallons/minute. We’re using it right now. It’s really awesome. Can you spot Kevin running away from it in this picture?

Our cover crop of rye and vetch turned our really well. We will be mowing and turning this in this week to prepare for our fall plantings!

Ok, that’s it for my brief update. If you signed up for a summer share but didn’t receive an email, please email brittany@upswingfarm.com to confirm your share. First check your spam folder!

For those of you who don’t get a summer share, we will be open for farm stand sales Thursday 4pm-7pm and at the Ashland Farmer’s market, Saturday 9am -1pm. We hope to see you there!

Farm Update, June 1st

Can you believe it? This week is the end of the Spring Share. We’ve somehow already got five weeks of veggie distribution under our belts at our new farm this year, and it feels great. We love operating as a primarily CSA farm. We are grateful for the commitment of our members, who pay upfront, or commit to regular payment plans and are willing to enjoy the seasonal abundance of the farm. It differs from an operating loan from the bank in so many ways, but one of the best reasons it is different, is that we care about you and you care about us. Yes I need money and yes you need high quality produce in sufficient volume to make the relationship work – but it allows for a level of community and relationship building that goes so far beyond what a bank loan can do. Thank you for being a part of our community.

You know what the end of Spring Share means? The start of the summer share! If you signed up for the summer share you will be receiving an email sometime in the next few days reminding you that you signed up, confirming your payment status and with information on where, when and how to pick up your produce!

We are really happy with how our crops are doing right now. Our spring brassica block looks amazing.

And that picture is before this weekend of rain! We would have loved the temps to be a little higher for this gray, wet memorial day weekend, but we needed that moisture and we were ready for it! I’m not there now, but I bet those plants have almost doubled in size already with all this moisture. Off to the right in the picture you can see our new potatoes coming in strong as well.

We had a feeling it would be cool until June up here (ha! remember all those 80+ degree days in May?) so we planted our first two successions of tomatoes in greenhouses. These high tunnel tomatoes went in at the beginning of May and we have fruit set already! The lettuces at the base of the tomato plants will be in the first and second summer shares. By planting lettuce at the base of tomato plants, we can take advantage of the growing space while the tomatoes are smaller, providing a higher overall yield without creating competition between the crops. This is something you can do in the home garden as well. Once we have harvested the lettuce, we will cover the soil with weed mat (see the dark black ground covering to the right) which will smother weeds and also allow the roots of the lettuce plants to break down, feeding the soil ecosystem, which will then help to feed our very hungry tomato plants! The plants are growing fast! Jess is pruning the tomatoes (taking out the “suckers” which are essentially baby tomato plants that grow in the leaf nodes) and trellising (attaching the tomato plants to a string so they stay tall). We’ll be doing this every week for a few months.

We did our fair share of hand weeding last week. Thanks to Denise, Sherry, Joella, Mary, Haley, Avery and Jess for crouching over 300 bed feet of cilantro, 400 bed feet of parsnips and 400 bed feet of carrots to make sure we were in good share for this rain. It was really, really dry. We are so grateful for the rain.

I took Saturday and Sunday off this weekend. It’s easier to stop working when it’s raining, one, because there is less to do, and two, because rain (unless it’s too much) is basically the most profitable thing that can happen on a farm. And I don’t have to water the greenhouses because the plants aren’t using water as readily/it’s not being evaporated by the sun.

When it rains one inch on our ten acre vegetable fields, 270,000 gallons of water falls in that area. Let’s say we wanted to apply the same amount of water ourselves. Right now, the highest rate of water application we can achieve is roughly 50 gallons/minute when our 5 hp pump and filter are working optimally (this is really great, and we are so grateful to have multiple water sources on our farm). 270,000gallons/50gallons per minute/60 minutes per hour = 90 hours of irrigation, or 3.75 days of irrigation (which includes the use of fossil fuel to run the pump, the labor of moving irrigation around and all the trouble shooting that goes with it).

Plants are geniuses at using smaller amount of water to get by, and we’ve made due during very dry growing seasons, but rain is so easy and free . . . I’m so grateful for a rainy day(s).

We also got all the peas trellised before the rain, and before they grow so tall they wouldn’t be able to grab on to their trellising. I planted a lot of peas – hopefully we have time to pick them all!!

The rain has us feeling great, we feel like our fertility plan is working and crops are doing well. We are exhausted to the bone from our infrastructure projects and a month of seedling sale prep and distribution – but, as Jess would say, “We’re doing it!”

Pre-storm and a post-storm sky photos for your enjoyment.