May 19 Newsletter

Riverbend Farm Newsletter                                                 May 19, 2013


It has been a busy couple weeks.

 The regularly scheduled crop mob for the last Saturday in April was postponed due to snow and generally wet conditions that had kept us out of the field. The following week it rained Friday night and was cold Saturday morning.  We canceled that one. 

 Our crew was looking at planting 50,000 onions by themselves. Luckily Sam was back in town, and Jacob and Jordan were starting.  They began planting on Tuesday and got their system worked out. On Wednesday morning Jonathon, Mark, Mary and Max, Nate (yes, that Nate (he even biked out from Mpls for old times sake)), and Susan came by to help with planting. We planted something like 32,000 onions that day. Clearly a case of kicking ass and taking names. Carmen came by after work and gave everyone a boost when it looked (accurately) like there was no end in sight.

On Thursday Andrew, Jacob, Jordan, Noelle, and Sam planted about another 24,000 or so onions. They were moving. On Thursday I had committed to picking up a couple Allis Chalmers All Crop Combines and did not do any planting. On Friday Mary and Max came back, Georgina and Mette came and helped us finish up.  Mary and Max are long time CSA members and have been to more crop mobs than I have. Tracy is the only person who has come to more crop mobs than Mary and Max, but she couldn’t make it on Friday. She did send salads and bread for lunch, but we went to Dave’s to celebrate the end of onion planting. Thanks Everyone!

 Over all we have planted something like 75,000 onions this year.  I was planning on about 50,000, but honestly, did not count the seeds when starting them in the flats. Usually onions germinate at about 70-75%. This year every seed must have come up.  Noelle  thought that the planting had gone so well since she had been planting onions for 72 hours straight. She dreamt about planting onions for two nights.  Sam also was dreaming of planting onions.  As you know, Mary is a psychotherapist, so I think they will be okay. Eventually.

 Last Sunday morning it was cold. We had about 28º at the house. It must have been colder in the field because a lot of the kale turned yellow. The lettuce that was planted down slope (in a theoretically colder spot) looked fine. Lots of people had frost damage on their brassicas that night. It was a little unusual since kale is very hardy. I think that most of it will recover.  On Monday morning we had frost again and on Tuesday both of our thermometers that were in the shade showed 100º.  This is a strange spring. 

We haven’t had any real rain since the last heavy wet snow. From Friday into Sunday morning, we have had about 3 1/8 inches of rain. That much at one time will slow things down a little next week, especially if we get more rain in the next few days.  Sandy soil can have its problems, but it drains very well. We will be in better shape than the farms on heavier soil..

 This week was a big one for transplanting lettuce and brassicas into the field and  repotting tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in the greenhouse.  I’m kind of dragging my feet on setting out the warm season crops. It has been a record cold  (not to mention generally weird) spring and I’m not convinced that the weather will settle down next week. The traditional Memorial Day will be soon enough.

 Not to mention that if we get more rain in the early part of the coming week we will be out of the field until it dries out a little.  I like to wait as long as possible to do our spring tillage to give the winter cover crops time to grow and produce as much organic matter as they can.  It is nice to get the cover crops turned under a week to ten days ahead of planting so that the first flush of weeds will come up and we can kill them without having to worry about our vegetable plants being in the way.  This year the rye is only about 6-8 inches tall. In the past it has been 4-5 feet tall by this time of year. The dry weather last fall slowed it down.

 Everyone has been getting introduced to cultivating, plowing, and disking. Jordan grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin so he has an advantage when it comes to operating the tractors and an implement. Sam does pretty well also. He has driven tractors, but has no experience with field work. The controls are where they are and do what they do, so no problem. Andrew and Jacob have quite a bit of experience with newer tractors and equipment and have a conflict where a lot of what they know is wrong when it comes to my old equipment, but they adapt pretty quickly. Noelle has no experience driving tractors, but is willing to try and does okay. More experience driving tractors would make it easier..

  Yesterday was the first day for the Downtown Delano Farmers Market. Mary got that market started last year and suggested that I do vegetable transplants for the first few markets. So we loaded plants in the pouring rain, set up in a downpour and actually had a pretty good day, considering the conditions.  Farmers markets are a lot of fun. 

 We will have plants there for the next couple weeks. I was planning on two weeks, but with the cold wet start this year, three weeks might be better. If you are interested in garden plants we will have the following. If some of them are unfamiliar and you want more information on what they are like, send me an email and I’ll send you a list with descriptions.:

 Cherry Tomatoes: Sunsugar,  Peacevine,  Juliet, Montesino, and Fargo 

Standard Reds: Chianti Rose, Martian Giant, Jet Star, Paragon, Dakota Sport

Yellow/Orange: Orange you Glad, Amber

Roma type: Orange Banana, San Marzano, Amish PAste, Granadero, Viva Italia

Heirloom: Paul Robeson, Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Persimmon, Evergreen, Uncle Everett, Pineapple, Black Krim, Prudens Purple

Sweet (mostly bell) peppers: Olympus, King of the North,  Revolution, Carmen, Flavorburst, Sweet Sunrise

Spice peppers: Boldog, Aji Dulce

Hot peppers: Habanero, Jalapride, Jalapeno, Super Chili, Hungarian Hot Wax, Hinkelhatz, Hot Cherry, Ancho

 Eggplant: Classic, Beatrice, Orient charm, Orient Express, Nadia, Clara, Nubia

 Brassicas: Nash’s Red Kale, Lacinato, Rainbow Lacinato,  Lech Kohlrabi, Early Jersey Cabbage,  Red Jewel

 We will also have a  selection of flowers, herbs, onions, and lettuce

 The market is on River St in Downtown Delano on Saturdays from 9 until 1.


ps Next crop mob is Saturday June 1st. We will be planting tomatoes.