Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Orchard/Farm Photo Update 4.27.16

Planting began the earliest it ever has this year! On April 17th we began our planting. We have heard the same from our conventional farming neighbors as well. Many annual vegetables, as well as perennials fruits have gone in the ground. That good inch of rain was a day of sun would be great!

New orchard trees.
For the first time we bought in some larger trees for the orchard. These trees will come into productions in a couple years, while we are still waiting for our younger grafted trees to mature. Rejoice apple lovers - we added 12 Honeycrisp, as well as 6 Smokehouse, 7 Pristine, 7 Ashmead's Kernel and 5 Blue Pearmain. A special thank you goes out to our Sponsor-A-Tree members whose investment in our orchard supported this purchase!

Brooke with a bare-root Honeycrisp tree.
Over the last week buds have been swelling at the orchard going from "full pink" and now many are in "full bloom." Two hundred newly grafted apple trees were also planted in a nursery bed for this season. This brings the total number of trees on our home farm close to 400.

Flower buds on an apple tree.
Our new greenhouse has been an amazing asset! Plants have been moving out of the basement into real sunlight and benefiting from that. It is unheated, so the temps varies with the conditions of the day this year there will be a lot of focus on simply learning how the greenhouse behaves and how we utilize that best. Here's a little glimpse into the greenhouse.

Plants growing happy in the greenhouse!
Lettuce was the first item to be transplanted into the field. These are the best looking lettuce plants we have grown. Growing them in soil blocks, instead of open flats, and real sun in the greenhouse have been positive. In the field we have also seeded more lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, peas and potatoes. When we can get into the (damp) field next the parsnips, radishes and beans will be seeded and onions, leeks, shallots, kale and cabbage will be transplanted

Lettuce transplants headed to the field.
Of course growing in the field already are shallots and garlic, planted in October, as well as our perennials - asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries.

Shallots and garlic.
I have seen kohlrabi and beets germinate and I expect to see the peas pop up any day, as I dug down and found those little green orbs germinating. Soil temps warmed up quicker this year, which should benefit us with faster germination and a greater percentage of the seeds germinating.

Pea seed germinating.
This is the earliest we have ever planted potatoes! Generally our tubers go in the ground May 1st, but what you want is 60° soil temps and we had it. Another key indicator is when the dandelions start blooming well. It was perfect timing to get an inch of rain following planting.

Farmer John planting potatoes.
This week a big round of soil blocking will happen in the indoor greenhouse. I'm heading down toe seed cucumbers, basil and more. We finished blocking up (moving 3/4" soil blocks onto 2" blocks) all of the tomatoes, but the peppers, broccoli, and swiss chard need the TLC now. Perfect for rain days!