Spring Newsletter May 2018

Riverbend Farm Spring Newsletter May 2, 2018

This a much nicer weather than we were having two weeks ago. The chickens were excited to be finally let outside. They spend most of the time just sitting in the warn sunshine or scratching for seeds and bugs. The rhubarb has poked out a few small leaves and the tips of the first asparagus are starting to show. The river is up, flooding some of the river bottom. The first few frogs have thawed out, we can hear them peeping. Lots of the trees are budding out but the oak trees are still holding on to their leaves.

Of all the birds the robins enjoy the birdbath the most. The nuthatch chicks have hatched out. My sister spotted them in a knothole in a tree at my folk’s house. We are getting all the usual suspects at the bird feeder but the mob of blackbirds seems to have dispersed. Which reminds me – during the blizzard the blackbirds mobbed the feeder. There must have been a hundred of them. All of a sudden they would all fly. Then we noticing a hawk out in the field eating something. The blackbirds returned and the hawk made a second pass. It was quite something to see. I guess it was a bird feeding station for all the birds.

We are currently getting our first spring rains. They are gentle showers that don’t amount to much but will green up everything. The mid April blizzard sure put a damper on field work. Some parts of our fields are dry enough to work but none of our neighbors have started their spring tillage. Some of their fields still have water in them. The sandy parts of our fields have dried out but the heavier soil is still a little too soft to work. The big puddle in the field south of the house just disappeared over the weekend.

I finally got the first radishes and arugula planted yesterday. It felt like the season was finally starting. This year there is finally an organic hybrid red radish. I have three rows of red radishes planted. One Cherriette, a very reliable, productive, good tasting conventional hybrid, Sora, a decent organic open pollinated variety and Rover, the new organic hybrid. Exciting stuff, I know.

Lettuce and kale will start going in next week. The deer hunters were unsuccessful last year so I’ll have to invest in a new fence charger. Deer love lettuce and take just one bite out of the center of the head two days before it is ready to harvest. No peas this year. They are marginal when planted in the middle of April, now it will be too warm too soon.

Both greenhouses are up and running. While it was so cold after the storm the first one was crammed full. Now that it is warmer at night I have the second one opened up and have moved all the cool season plants over there. Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant are a little behind the last couple years due to the cold temperatures. With the recent warm sunny days they are making good progress. Nights in the 50s are very welcome.

Since the frost has gone out I have been able to fix the broken water line going out to the greenhouse. The problem was a 30 year old piece of plastic pipe that had split. It is so nice to have the water on in the greenhouses. I had been running a hose out there and filling big tubs and then using buckets and a watering can to water the plants. That is not a bad way to do it when there are just a few plants or when they are very small, but on a warm sunny day a greenhouse full of medium sized plants takes 75-80 gallons of water. A lot of lugging buckets…

Mary and I have been busy repotting, moving things up from 98s to 50s or 3.5” pots (98 and 50 refer to the number of cells in a 1020 tray). Mette and Mark (two regular crop mobbers ) were out and gave us a hand with repotting a couple weeks ago moving the seedlings from 200s to the 98s.

A holdover from the cold April is that the bulk of my potting soil is still frozen. The good news is that the edges have thawed and I don’t have to chip off chunks and bring them into the greenhouse to soften up anymore.

We will also be selling starter plants at the Birchwood on Mother’s Day Weekend and the following weekend. If you can’t make it to either one of those sales, both the Wedge and Seward Co-ops will carry a selection of our plants. Otherwise we will be selling plants at the farm by appointment.

Back to the greenhouse