Happy Mother's Day to our Mothers and all the mamas who read our little blog. Hope you all had a nice weekend. Over the past few days, we distributed approx. 30 pounds of fresh asparagus to "early bird" members, first registrants of the 2013 season. We apologize for the short notice given regarding availability - the lovely stalks seem to arrive overnight! Many thanks to Charlie, Kevin and Liam for harvesting. I am happy eating asparagus morning, noon and night and particularly enjoy roasted asparagus with eggs. Add toast with raspberry jam and you have the best Spring breakfast imaginable.
The recent rain was much needed, but it did a little bit of damage in the field. Water carved a tiny river through our peas and flooded the onions. It looks like we only lost a couple of pea plants and the onions have already begun to dry out so hopefully there is no real loss there. To avoid similar damage in the future, we need to come up with a short-term solution to help slow the flow of water such as placing hay bales between the rows. Longer term, we plan to plant grasses between the rows which should help considerably.
If you've driven by the farm recently, you may have noticed the rows of black plastic that now line our fields. In our early years, we weeded mostly by hand and hoe but with our production increasing we have transitioned to plastic mulch. Plastic mulch isn't mulch at all - think instead of a thin sheet of plastic running down over a row of dirt or a "bed". The idea is to starve the would-be weeds of sunlight while allowing the crops to poke up out of the layer of plastic and thrive. We don't use round-up or other chemical week killer but if left to grow unchecked, weeds would overtake the fields and strangle the crops. One of the main benefits of plastic mulch is the savings in labor costs for hand weeding. Plastic mulch also helps to conserve water and improve yields overall.
The big news is that we had a well drilled! Up until now, we've been using municipal or city water to irrigate our fields which was expensive. As we look to ramp up our production, we quickly realized that we needed another source of water. Initially, we considered using the pond across the street but soon saw that digging a well was the optimal solution. (The pond likely contains run off of variable suburban sources including lawn care chemicals, etc.) Unfortunately, while once a mainstay of farm irrigation, ponds are now often contaminated with chemicals and bacteria. Thank you to the team from Pickwick Drillers who did a great job. Kevin and Liam are working to hook up our irrigation using a drip tape system. So, we cast our shiny penny down 65 feet and wish to make this farm a success! An eyes closed, hand holding, feet planted firmly in the dirt kind of wish. Here goes nothing. Or everything. Depending on how you look at it.
And lastly, a special thank you to Gravity Hill Farm for recently hosting us at their Spring Farmers Dinner. Pam Flory served up delicious pizzas from their brick-oven and the girls are still talking about getting to hold the baby chicks in the barn! A great evening spent with outstanding NJ farmers. It always amazes me how dedicated and generous farmers are. From lending equipment to words of advice, we are incredibly thankful to those who have welcomed us into the farming community.