Turkey Hill Newsletter, March 2009

Spring is a lovely time on the farm! The air is crisp and cool, and the days are warm. Spring winds have been whipping up, and today a new storm is bringing snow to the mountains.

In the field work progresses preparing for the season. The moisture was good, so I was able to disc the entire field. I planted a variety of cover crops on around four acres – mustards, vetch & other green manure mixes. Some of these will get tilled in late spring for planting, others will stay in cover crop all season, getting mowed so they won’t go to seed. We’ll till these in next spring. Cover crops help build soil, adding organic matter and sometimes fixing nitrogen. In our climate, its a bit difficult to get a cover crop in because the season is quick! fortunately our field is expansive enough that we can devote a part of the field to cover crop while the veggies get planted in other sections.
This week we nearly completed the hoop house setup project. Our 200′ x 20′ hoop house has been in use for six years, but last year we took it apart to relocate it and never managed to finish putting it back together. This year we got an early start and the hoop house is nearly ready for planting. It will still be a few weeks before we can really get crops planted in there, but its great to have it ready to go! The hoop house adds night time heat that brings crops in weeks ahead of outdoor planting. This means a wider variety of crops early in the season.
We’ve already begun our early plantings in the greenhouse. I’m frequently asked about why we start certain crops in the greenhouse and some directly in the field. There are a variety of reasons, here are a few. Earliness – many crops need a jump start on the season to reach maturity in one summer in our climate – Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and some herbs and flowers. Taproots – root crops don’t transplant well and do best when grown from seed in the field: carrots, beets, radish. Expense – some seeds we use are very expensive (for example orange cauliflower ‘cheddar’ costs around five cents per seed! planting in the field requires that we drill a line of plants, then thin to the proper spacing, wasting lots of seeds along the way. Starting seeds in the greenhouse insures that nearly every seed winds up reaching maturity.
Spring is a great time to visit the farm! We love having visitors, especially CSA members. Plan a visit this spring to see what’s going on up here. We’ll walk the fields, tour the greenhouse and  answer any questions. Just call ahead to let us know you are coming. If you would like to come the farm for a few hours of work, plan on later in the spring when we need more help weeding – usually after mid may.
Until next time…

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