Thursday, May 26, 2011

May sum-up part 2

Okay hey! Rain! Mushy muddy fields. Argh.

So last time I forgot to mention that the second week of May was when I got my marvelous tan. 90 degrees for 3 days and out plowing in Hampshire and Elgin turned my arms and face 17 shades darker than the rest. I believe 'they' call this the 'farmer tan'. So yeah, surrounded by unseasonably cool weather was nearly 3 days of 90 degrees. And yeah, hail and wind and all that fun stuff - cover the seedlings! 4 days later there was a frost - argh, again.

So by now Hampshire was plowed, and strangely, not soaked, Elgin is plowed and partially planted and the frost threat has passed. This third week of May we planted broccoli, onions, beans, all the cole crops and more lettuce, carrots and beets in Elgin. On the Hampshire land we seeded up popcorn and dry beans for next year and late last week finished Hampshire with winter squash, pumpkins, melons, gourds, fennel, and some carrots.

Here's where is gets really exciting. In the second week of May we were contacted by Alex (hi Alex!) about buying veggies from us and asking some advice on her own gardens. She also said she knew of a church in Elgin that had land that needed planting. Long and short is that Abiding Peace Lutheran Church on Randall Rd. has 2-3 acres that they do not use and do not want to mow. They have in the past let another farmer plant corn and soy on it but he's moved away. So Mark and Pastor Tim got together with us that Saturday and we talked about what we do and what they want done with the land. It was a good fit.

During the next week we planted and plowed and seeded and planned. We were working out an agreement with the church regarding using their extra land as well. The planning was the difficulty. As we talked about at the "Meet and Greet" we have a business plan that is for slow expansions and we don't want to grow more than we can handle too quickly. This extra land kind of goes against that and we were trying to find a way to keep control but still expand. We explored hiring on a full time employee to manage this new land and develop a larger customer base. By the end of this past week we had an agreement with the church and had plotted the course for that land for this year.

Next step was starting that course, and continue the planting and seeding on the other land. That brings us to this week. But that's for next time. Looks like the rain has stopped this morning and I'm going out to trudge through the mud and weed and seed and stuff.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gonna try this blog thing for updates from the field.

Hey everybody!

So I'm going to try this blog thingy for updates a couple times a week about what's going on in the field and stuff like that. For this first one I'm going to quickly go through the last few weeks at Trogg's Hollow.

I told everyone at the "Meet and Greet" that as of the end of April I would be losing my full time corporate regular person job to outsourcing. So, yeah, that happened. It was part of the plan for me to eventually quit the corporate junk and do this veggie farming thing full time, panaphonics just made the decision easier and a little sooner for me.

After that Marcy and I made the decision to go get what's called a walk behind or two-wheeled tractor. I had been hand digging everything, and while it is great for the soil, it will end up not being great for my back. So, we took along drive down to Frankfort, KY to Earth Tools and got some coaching on what tractor and attachments were going to be the least harmful to the soil and the best for us now and as Trogg's Hollow goes on. Joel and Chris helped us decide on a BCS 853 with a rotary plow PTO attachment instead of a till. The rotary plow mimics hand digging as much as possible - it doesn't pulverize and beat up the soil; it more or less turns it over. And, it can help make raised beds and turn in cover crops once we start planting them. So hooray for Italian farm implement manufacturers thinking about us small farmers!

We came back through southern Illinois right after they blew the dam in Cairo. Wow, even the interstate was inches from being under water. On our way through we checked out more peach growers for our yearly purchase in August. We're still trying to find a really good organic peach producer from Illinois. We may be going to Michigan, maybe even more local than southern Illinois. More news on that as peach season gets closer.

The second week of May was spent plowing the Elgin land by our house and seeding early May plants. By then we had peas and lettuce and carrots and beets and spinach trying to grow as much as they could. But nature was having none of it. What was/is with this cold May? First April averages the coldest since 1983 and now May has been like April should have been. The low temps have really put a damper on growth out in the field. We also went out and got a used cargo trailer that I have now converted into a 5x8 cooler on wheels. It'll be mostly parked in the garage to keep things fresh for market but making deliveries to drop-off spots is not out of the question.

Okay, that's a good stopping point for tonight. I'll do this over the next few days to catch everyone up. There is a lot more! Here is a pic of the tractor we got with the plow. And here is a video in Italian of what the rotary plow does.