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My CSA Farmer's Farm Journal - Veggies are on their way!

Just hearing about the veggies going into the ground makes my mouth water! Thought I'd share his first email of the season. It's a nice view into the New England farmer's day.

Hello all, and Happy Spring!
I’m very, very busy out here as the planting in the greenhouse is
getting pretty intensive, and the logging/firewood processing
continues. My best estimate is that I have somewhere in the vicinity
of 200,000 plants started at this point, and will continue to plant
another 12-15,000 plants each week for the next 8-10 weeks. All kinds
of crops have been started; among them lettuce, broccoli cabbage,
onions, leeks, celery, celery root, fennel, kohlrabi, bok choy,
peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, chard, beets and a whole slew of other
crops. Its been very satisfying watching the various seeds sprout up
and start to grow, and with last weeks warm weather kicking them
along, as well as jump starting my fall sown cover crops, it is
starting to finally feel like a new year to me and in another 7 to 10
days I will begin to plow and plant the first crops outside. I can’t
wait!

In the meantime I have also been finishing up the logging job I've
been doing for the past several months, and now the excavator is
working on removing the stumps and readying the newly cleared ground
so it may be plowed and hopefully produce great crops for the woman
who own the land. Once the stumps are cleared and the weather settles
I will return and plow for her. I am pretty excited to do so, as I
have put considerable time and effort into the tree clearing part of
it and it is a source of great satisfaction for me to help create new
farmland.

One of the more interesting aspects of the clearing process has been
the fate of some of the logs; typically I process all the trees into
firewood, but over the last several years I have developed a
relationship with Brian Brown, owner of Artisan Lumber here in
Lunenburg (artisanlumber.com). I got to know Brian because he
purchased a farm about a mile from mine, and I started using his land
last year, and will continue to do so this year. I mentioned to him me
own small logging operation, and invited him to look over and select
out any of the logs that are of interest to him. He’s got a great eye
for high quality logs, and much of the cherry, red and white oak has
gone to him this year to be sawn into premium, furniture- grade
lumber. Among the better find from this seasons cutting was some
premium, curly red oak, which apparently is quite rare. For those of
you involved or interested in building furniture or any type of work
requiring high quality lumber I suggest you give him a call.

Anyway, back to the greenhouse-a little follow up to the last
email-the tomatoes sown back a few weeks ago have been transplanted
into 1 inch square containers, and are now awaiting the next
transplanting into 6 inch pots before being planted into the field-the
actual field planting date will be sometime in mid to late may. The
leeks and onions took a little longer to sprout than usual, perhaps
because I am keeping the greenhouse down to about 55 degrees at night
in order to conserve cash. The will be transplanted directly from the
containers that they where sown in to the field, pulling the
individual plants apart from the groups of 8-10 per cell, and setting
them about 6 inches apart, with about 18 inches between rows-this is
wider spacing than you will need if you are doing this at home, as I
need to plant with the tractors in mind-about 4 inches part and rows
10 inches apart are fine for home gardeners. Also, as I mentioned,
keep an eye on the height of your plants; you want to trim them back
with scissors to maintain about a 4 -inch high plant while they are in
the containers.

As far as starting the other crops I have mentioned above, a single
seed in 3/4 inch or so containers is the technique I use. Give them
plenty of sun and not too much water-your much better off to give
several light water rings a day than one heavy one, and by growing on
the dry side you will encourage a much hardier root system.

For those of you still on the installment payment plan, your next
payment is due March 30th-if you are able to I want to encourage you
to pay off the balance of what is owed as this is the most critical
time of year for my cash flow, with greenhouse heat and supplies, as
well as parts. More seeds and other supplies for the upcoming outdoor
planting will be needed.

Well, Hopefully by the next time I write you, I should be able to give
you some details of how the first plowing and outdoor planting went,
but until then say happy spring again! -Steve
Parker Farm, Lunenberg, MA

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