It's still winter, right? Where I'm from it snows and is cold during winter, so this soggy 40 degree weather has been really throwing me off. Though as a cyclist I have to admit that this unexpectedly warm January has aided in the ease of transport for me and my family. So I guess I can't complain too loudly, but this constant nagging feeling, "this isn't right", won't go away.
Despite (or maybe because of) the warm weather we've been really gearing up (pun intended) for the 2012 growing season! There has been a whole grocery list of items to attend to and I'd say we're really shaping up and are excited about easing back into things.
Once the holiday craziness had past, I got to work on our crop plan. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've decided to prioritize diversity over quantity at market, and start up a neighborhood farm stand. With this in mind and the results of our neighborhood (what do you want to eat?) survey in hand I embarked on the adventure that is crop planning. I'm not sure if you've ever done much crop planning but it can basically be as complicated or simple as you want. We definitely try to incorporate as much crop rotation (planting crops based on a rotation of crop families and trying to avoid planting the same family in the same location each year) into our plan as possible. Rotating your crops really helps cut down disease and insect pressure, though I have to admit that when you're only growing on 1/5th of an acre I find it hard to believe that the pests can't skip over a couple beds to where their favorite crops are now planted. Some insects are of course less mobile then others and certainly soil diseases are cut down dramatically. but hey, you do what you can.
We will be growing 41 different varieties of annual crops, in addition to planting everbearing raspberries, 2 varieties of strawberries, black berries and 2 varieties of asparagus (yeah perennials!!!). wow, i might be in over my head :) so we'll see how things go. Its been a little while since I grew this many different crops and varieties so I have to admit I'm a little nervous. We're making the leap into perennial crops because we FINALLY own 1 of our farm lots and will be tilling it up this year. Now if the city could just get its act together we might own all 3 by the 2013 season (who knows, miracles do happen). We will also be growing all the transplants and I have given the grow room a bit of a makeover (cleared out all our personal storage items, put down a new floor covering, and added shelves and more lights...its really going to glow in there!) and now have space for transplant production.
As a matter of fact, I did the very first sunflower shoot planting for the year yesterday and we are oh so excited to return to Eastern Market next Saturday, February 4th. We'll be in a center stall in Shed 3, so please come check us out! We'll of course have sunflower shoots and possibly garlic and dried tomatoes!
Last but certainly not least, I'm happy to announce that we have a new member of the Rising Pheasant Farms team. Darryl Howard, a graduate of the Earthworks Agricultural Training (EAT) Program and avid composter, will be coming on board as our Assistant Farm Manager. Darryl has been involved at Earthworks since Brother Rick ran the show, but most recently spent the past two years participating in the EAT program as a candidate and a mentor. He has also played an active role in the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Community Bike Shop and, I'm told, is a great bike mechanic. Darryl will be my "first mate" if you will, for all sunflower shoot and field production, as well as at the market. We are very excited to have his skill, incite, and warm smile! Welcome Darryl!