It's another unpredictable year when it comes to weather. Like most of you, we've been muddling our way though the pea-soup level fog for the last 10 days. The most recent cold snap was a surprise but not unwelcome, it'll help reduce the amount of pests we see later this spring/summer. You probably know we have two locations that we farm. Our Philomath plot is all outdoors and we're only harvesting a few crops there, the cooking mix and the carrots. The other items are fall harvest storage crops that are kept at Sunbow. We're tending to a few hoop houses full of lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, fennel and celery. We anticipate new items will start to be available in about two weeks (fingers crossed).
We got an early start on our onions and tomatoes so we'll see in May/June if we were successful at getting them to your tables earlier than last year. I find it delightful to think that our efforts now will be rewarded in delicious dishes for all of us. Unlike larger operations, our plant starting process is pretty low key. We have small area that's glass on three sides and the roof, this allows for any light that finds its way through the winter clouds to provide passive heating. Inside that, there's a "double-decker" germination chamber with grow lights and a heat mat on one layer. When it's extra cold outside, we tuck in the seedlings by closing the plastic to keep the temps above freezing. We used to heat the space but have found we don't really need to, between the grow lights and the biomass inside, the temps stay pretty stable. If it were larger or cold enough for several days, we'd have to use an additional external heating source. Once the plants are large enough, they take a field trip to our 9th street location where we have a 100 foot propagation house. There the plants get put into individual cells where they will develop hearty roots and leaves before they get transplanted into the earth. Not knowing what kinds of conditions we'll have come March and April makes planning for transplant a little tricky. We can have ideas about where things will go but if the ground is too cold, wet or dry, we'll need to figure out a different area. Daily are the reminders that we are not in control!
Aside from seeding and dreaming about summer fruits, we've been working on projects like improving some of the infrastructure (removing rotten wood on hoop houses), tending to the orchard (removing dead trees and pruning) and working on administrative tasks. We try to remind ourselves to be easy on our bodies this time of year since they take a hard hit March-December so in addition to harvests, maintenance and projects, we are also trying to find time to rest, cook delicious meals and get some reading done too!
We hope your winter has offered many opportunities to get cozy, eat good food and indulge in your favorite past times.