Urban Farm Updates, November 23rd, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
We are taking a moment to interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you, a special Thanksgiving mention.
I still believe in amber waves of grain,
a man on his knees praying for rain.
That grew this country strong,
and keeps us moving on.
They get tougher as their lives
keep getting harder.
Oh Lord, I think it’s time,
we all thank a farmer.
Sending a great big “thank you” to all of the hard working farmers around the world, who make eating possible! An extra special thank you to our local HCFM farmers and all of the amazing work that they do! You rock!
What’s Growing On!
Well guys, it is just a quiet week here on the Urban Farm. Cat and Luke, my two Wofford Students went home for the Thanksgiving break, and I am just wrapping things up for a 4 day weekend, myself. We had our first official frost here on the Urban Farm over the weekend, so I came in Monday morning to a some spectacular;y frosty views. Frosts on a farm can be damaging to fragile seedlings and kill off remaining summer crops, but they can also be beneficial by helping to sweeten up winter greens, carrots and beets. The first frost of the year always indicates the start of ‘carrot happiness’ to me, because of the sugar concentrating process that the plants go through to prevent frost damage on a cellular level. By concentrating sugars in their cells, they help to lower the freezing point, and by sweetening up their cells they also survive the cold winter weather! It is something that is incredible to experience, for the first time, each and every year!
My Lettuce plants also survived the cold, frosty weather on Sunday night without any frost blanket or protection. I hope that I never lose that awe to see plants as delicate as Carrot tops and Lettuce greens that can withstand the damaging cold of a frost. They certainly are amazing plants! I will start putting up my low tunnels over the next week, to ensure that all of my plants are not only protected from a severe frost, but that they are giving the most ideal circumstances in which to produce. Keeping Lettuce between 50 and 60 degrees during the day and 40 degrees at night seems to create the most ideal situation for peak leafing lettuce production.
Inside the Greenhouse this week, we worked on cleaning up all of the trays, pots and inserts, which needed to be cleaned up and reorganized. An essential part of handling the greenhouse is cleaning up at the end of the season and reorganizing supplies; taking stock of what is broken and needs to be replaced, including trays, inserts and pots. At any one given time, on the Urban Farm, we can expect to have 50 to 75 trays of seedlings going at once, which means that I need to be able to have as many trays and inserts in circulation. Doing this annual consolidation allows me to figure out how many more I need to order and how to budget for the next fiscal year. In December and January, we will be starting fresh flats of spring greens and greenhouse plants, and this cleaning, inventorying and organizing process helps us to be prepared for the next onslaught of seeding to be done.
My Greenhouse peppers are still producing super well as they approach their 1 year anniversary! I planted those Goddess and Carmen pepper plants inside of the Greenhouse last January, and they are continuously producing better and better each month. It is not uncommon for me to harvest 5 to 7lbs per week, from my 15 Greenhouse pepper plants. I will definitely be replanting these same varieties again, when they finally stop producing, and I am very curious to see when that will be! These are definitely winning varieties! Thank you ‘Johnny’s Seed Company’!
Outside of the Greenhouse, my Wofford students and I worked on refreshing the composted material in both the terrace bed and the ADA raised bed behind the farm shed. We will be planting some more frost tolerant plants in all of our raised beds over the next several months, including the front linear raised beds, once all of the winter carrots have been pulled. I am hoping to be able to harvest another ~75lbs of carrots over the next several months; in addition to the kale, kohlrabi and cabbage which will thrive and grow over the winter season.
It is so hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that it is already Thanksgiving, and the end of 2017 is already upon us! Where did this year go?! It literally feels like just yesterday I was transplanting all of my summer crops outside and refreshing my rows from my spring crops. One season is just rolling right into the next without a pause, although I am hoping, with the help of my Wofford students, to be able to catch my breath this winter, as we prep and plan for more Urban Farm growth and development in 2018. I hope to be able to use 2018 to really maximize the use of all the space on the Urban Farm, therefore increasing our produce production and reducing weed pressure at the same time. We hope to be able to add some perennial fruiting trees as well as some additional raised beds throughout to maximize the use of the entire space we have to work with. I am excited for all of the changes and improvements that have already been made, and I can’t wait to get started on the 2018 Urban Farm development projects! Big changes are coming and I can’t wait to share it with the community and our partners at Wofford College.