It's spring and that means our greenhouses here at Katchkie Farm are HOPPIN'! We have two greenhouses that were all prepped and about an hour ago were planted with cherry and beefsteak tomato seedlings. A team of 5 of us planted them this morning. We turned on the irrigation to give those little guys a nice drink in their new homes.
Transplanting seedlings can be stressful on the plants but it really is amazing how resilient they are. They started to perk up as soon as they got that drink of water. The way we prep the greenhouse is by laying down black shade cloth that will prevent weeds from coming up around the tomato plants. We cut holes in the cloth where we want to plant the little tomato seedlings. Then we hang strings from the top of the greenhouse. This will help us create a trellis system so that as the tomato plants grow and grow, we can keep them off the floor and keep them fruiting nice and high. We also prep by hooking up the drip irrigation lines that run the entire length of the greenhouse so that our little beauties can get their hydration when they need it.
Planting tomatoes now in the greenhouse ensures that we will have an early tomato harvest. Otherwise, we would have to wait until after the frost date to plant outside, and up here that isn’t for WEEKS.
Tomato greenhouse right after planting!
Cut to greenhouse 3. This greenhouse is acting as a nursery for all our seedlings. We are filling empty trays with soil and then planting seeds in them so that they can start growing. Some crops are direct seeded into the earth but most crops start as seedlings. This helps them get bigger before we plant them outside so that they can have an easier time competing with weeds for nutrients and light and also will help with earlier harvests too. Because Katchkie Farm's main program is the CSA program, our greenhouse seeding schedule involves seeding trays of the same crop over and over again, week after week.
For example, we are seeding many lettuce trays each week because we want the harvests to be staggered. We do not want all shareholders to just get lettuce one week. We want shareholders to get lettuce week after week, ensuring delicious salads throughout the season. Each lettuce succession will mature at a different time, ensuring those yummy salads. With hundreds of shareholders, the math gets pretty complex pretty quickly. Say we want all 600 shareholders to get 2 heads of lettuce each week for the first 6 weeks. The math would go 600 x 2 x 6 = 7,200. That means we must get 7,200 lettuce seeds seeded in trays over 6 weeks (1,200 per week). Lettuce seeds are tiny and that is A LOT OF COUNTING!!!
Also, to complicate matters even more, not all lettuce seeds will produce beautiful head lettuce so we must account for that and plant maybe 50-100 extra seeds each week to make certain we have the right number given harvest time.
There is a lot of planning and prepping and figuring, and lots of this farm math this time of year but we love it! At the beginning of the season we are just the dreamers of it all. And then each day we become the do-ers of it all. We can’t wait to get our hands in the earth again and it looks like we’ll start planting out in the fields tomorrow.
We are enjoying the sunshine and are really looking forward to an awesome and delicious season! Kick it off with cooking one of Spring's classic yields: Asparagus.
Asparagus – 2017, first harvest
Cream of Asparagus Soup
1 lb fresh asparagus, cleaned & chopped to 1"
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken)
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add chopped onion and minced garlic. Add asparagus and cook until softened (but not mushy at all!) maybe 4-5 minutes. Add stock and bring mixture to a simmer for ~15 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste. Last, but not least, enjoy the start of asparagus season!!