It is really easy to plant vegetables. Maintenance is a whole other ballgame. We’ve almost planted two full acres — another 1/4 acre or so to go and then we move into our new 2-acre leased parcel down on highway 238. We walked the field last night to do some observations and see how most of the crops were doing. We’ve been plunging forward the last few weeks and haven’t had a chance to check-in with our plants. I’d say we’ve got about 85 – 90% success in the field, although there were a few things that were big uh-ohs and stressed us out just a bit until we recooped! The broccoli raab and pink petiole mustard greens are bolting. Okay, no big deal. We’re going to try direct seeding these instead. We’ve lost a whole succession of beets to something — slugs — we’re not sure, but everything got munched and only a sad little stem is left in all three beds. We’ve always had trouble getting beets off the ground in the spring, but we’re going to go ahead and reseed those beds and hope for the best. Combined with a recently seeded succession of beets, that means we will have 2,100 feet of beets coming on all at once. We’ll see how that goes.
We’ve also got a major slug problem. In one part of our field, we’ve left grass/clover aisles intact and while this is a good thing in the summertime when it is hot as it retains moisture and gives habitat for beneficial insects, during the cold, wet spring it is a great place for slugs to hang out. We’ve lost a whole bed of collards and radishes to the slugs. Last night, we watched them as they just moved through the radishes in a straight line. Unfortunately, I think we are going to phase out the grassy aisles this year.
In terms of pest damage, everything else looks pretty good. We have noticed a higher population of cucumber beetles this year. Maybe because of our mild winter? The birds took out some peas. We’ve had some spotty carrot germination, although I think we’ve found our carrot for the farm. The variety, ya-ya, is the way to go for us. It has been such an outstanding carrot in all of our trials. Unfortunately, we only seeded one bed of these and the other three beds of Mokum and Nelson are not doing as well. Everything else is doing really well — we will have beautiful bok choys very soon. Broccoli, cauliflower, kales, cabbages are all doing well — looking healthy and happy. Turnips and radishes are on the way.
We’ve realized that spring is always a hard time for us right up until the Summer Solstice. It is cold and wet. Plants don’t grow incredibly fast especially if you plant them early and they can’t grow fast enough to outcompete the bugs. There are always a million things to do. You have a lot of expenses, but not much cash flow. And this year, jumping from two acres to four acres in vegetable production is creating many growing pains, but our spirits are up and our drive is strong. It always helps to go to the farmers’ market each week and receive so much support and thanks from all of our loyal customers. It definitely keeps us going!
The new hens are beginning to lay — we should be up to our ears in eggs soon. Next task is to figure out how to move them. There are a lot of eggs at the market this year and I don’t think we’ll be able to sell all of them in Ashland, so we’re brainstorming new markets. A new market is starting at the Roxy Ann Winery in East Medford in June. We may try taking this new market on and maybe this will be a good place for eggs. If we can’t seem to sell them, then we’ll have lots of stewing hens for sale here soon! Oh, the perennial adventure of figuring out pastured poultry.
We still have CSA memberships available. We begin delivering boxes of produce the week of May 18th for 24 weeks of fresh, organic produce. Don’t forget to sign up!