20 Mar Stickin’ to the Plan
Despite winter’s tight grip on the Mid-Atlantic region, your farmers at Blooming Glen are stickin’ to the plan! Today is the first day of spring, and though the weather of late has been a bit on the chilly side to say the least, we are not altering the farms planting schedule. We are diligently and optimistically keeping up with our weekly seeding. We remember all too well from past years how quickly the weather fortunes can change here in Southeastern Pa. And based on that experience we are pretty convinced it will be a short spring, and we’ll be quickly rocketed right into the hot days of summer, but who knows! (Ok, we might be reconsidering the wisdom of spring broccoli, a cool weather loving crop, but that’s just one teensy change. Otherwise, all systems go!)
In honor of St. Patty’s Day, we like to follow the lore of gardeners everywhere and sow our sugar snap peas. However, instead of sowing them into the cold damp soil where they will most likely either sit dormant or rot, we sow them into flats in the heated greenhouse, to be transplanted out when things warm up a bit. This is a switch we made a few years ago, to ensure reliable germination and healthy starts from the get go.
Luckily for our first planting of early greens, it is definitely looking like spring in our freshly plowed high tunnels. Spinach, arugula and lacinato kale will soon call this warm spot home, followed closely by our heirloom tomatoes.
This week we’ve been repairing and preparing our unheated coldframe. This is where our seedlings will endure a phase of hardening off. Pictured below are Jared and Cheyenne- two of our newest crew members from Wisconsin. We’ll introduce you to them in a crew profile soon!
The journey of the transplant from seed to field begins when the seeds are sown and the flats sit on a 70 degree heated table. After germination they come off the table but remain in the womb of the propagation greenhouse where they are fussed over and fed a steady diet of heat and water.
Phase two moves them to a heated greenhouse that is a bit cooler, but still very nurtured. Phase three, when the plants are rootbound, sees them head out to the coldframe. Here they experience gradual exposure to wind (the sides can be rolled up or down), to colder temps (just row covers and the greenhouse skin protect the plants at night) and less regular waterings. This stresses the plants just enough to get the seedlings toughened up and ready for the harsh reality of life in the fields, where they will leave the safety and comfort of their trays and stand alone in the wind, rain, cold and heat, and eventually become someone’s meal.
Make those veggies part of your meal! CSA memberships for the 2014 season are available. Register on our website today!
Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.