We have been steadily working on putting up a greenhouse at the farm. The goal is to have transplants started on Feburary 15th this year. With our new greenhouse, we will be able to supply certified organic transplants to the public and provide our own transplants.
Besides having the obvious structure of the greenhouse we have to buy the plastic for the top, fans for air circulation, and a heater. We will have electricity inside the greenhouse and water for keeping the plants alive. It's like building a small ecosystem.
Where are all the plants gonna sit? We put the seeds into flats, which are big plastic trays with individual seed cells. Once in the flat we place them on top of a table. The tables are really important. We've found the best design to be a rigid wooden frame on top of sawhorses so that two people can move them easily and we can put the table tops on the truck bed to transport to the field. Maximizing space in the greenhouse and easy mobility is key. We only have so much space in the greenhouse and we have to move the tables outside to get them ready to plant or when it's too hot in the summer.
So we decided as our Sunday fun-day project to build greenhouse tables. We have been building our own tables for 10+ years but now have perfected the perfect lightweight yet rigid design. Sometimes the tables hold almost 100lbs in plant material after they are watered!
In the picture you will see one assembled table. We built 15. Using construction adhesive and screws helps to ensure longevity.
All in all, with the use of a friend's table saw and a trip to get lumber, it took us just over 3 hours to complete them. Soon we'll affix metal hardware cloth to the top to give the flats of plants lots of support.
We will post more greenhouse building pictures soon!
you're running a farm!
Since our last post, we've harvested over 2,000 lbs of produce, sold much of it, donated over 240 lbs of it, and are in the cycle of farming: plant, weed, harvest, till. It feels good to move through this cycle seamlessly -- already tilling some of our first planted beds and putting them to rest in cover crop.
Farming in the rain forest has it's quirks. While we (set in our ways) spent a bit of our budget on drip and micro irrigation, we tend to bring on big storms every time we turn it on. Most recently we had 5 inches over the course of two days (much of the precipitation falling at our last Saturday market). And since we are farming in a floodplain, our fingers are always crossed that the soil can absorb the rain. So far, so good, only a few wet spots and standing water at the edges of our fields. Fortunately many of the fields have just a hint of a slope so they don't capture the water.
Despite the rain, we are able to work uninterrupted managing the 2 acres with just the two of us. It's a lot of work, especially with the bounty of weed seeds in the soil, but we are amazingly still finding time to play in the forests and surrounding mountains and have plenty of time for rest.
When the soil is fertile and crops are happy, the work is less and harvests are more.
Squash, cucumbers, and beans cannot be stopped. In fact, we have donated so much of these items that we have most recently decided to abandon our first plantings and concentrate on picking our second successions. This actually works out well because the second successions are gorgeous!
We have just published information about our Fall CSA -- we are so excited to have the CSA component on this farm. Can't wait to spoil our members! The shares will begin in late August and continue until mid-November.
And life on the farm continues, and it's time to pick our first good harvest of okra. I see a yummy dinner in my future!!
See you all at market this Saturday, it's supposed to be a warm and beautiful day!
It's been a very busy few weeks on the farm. We've both put in long hours to prepare more ground for planting, cleaning up, weeding, installing a walk in cooler and more! We have some produce starting to come in mainly salad greens and roots. It's exciting to not buy these items at the grocery store.
Each day we have been focusing on one or more projects and working as a team to push through them. It's interesting not having any helping hands we find things are much faster and then other things are much much slower. Everything from soil to weather is so different here and we relish the 30 minute naps we get to take during the afternoon thunderstorms. It's purely amazing to work on a farm that is flat. It takes me back to the NY days at Sisters Hill Farm.
We should have enough food to soon be at the Transylvania County Farmers Market in downtown Brevard. We have been visiting the market almost each weekend to buy the local beef, honey, and awesome wares. It's nice to be involved in a community where everyone is interested in your story and how you got here. It's a slower pace of life that I am finally getting used to. We have even had our extension agent out to visit a few times already and he's helped us navigate our new territory, take soil samples, and even pull weeds!
Well that's all for now. My farming life bed time is early. More pictures and articles to come soon!
It's been a busy three weeks since we've written anything about our progress. The more we cram into our schedule the quicker the days go by.
A lot can happen in three weeks.
Our first radish planting was harvested -- totaling a full bin that I am now pickling and sharing with friends since we don't yet have enough stuff to take to market.
We've picked our first lettuce mix and are enjoying a nice salad with every meal.
Our winter squash and summer squash have about 4 true leaves now and we'll soon be uncovering them to let the pollinators work their magic.
Beets and carrots emerged with a full blanket of weeds -- many of which rival our evil bermuda grass of Serenbe. So Justin and I have successfully done the first time consuming weeding and thinning of these tiny and slower growing crops.
Flea beetles prove to be a concern and we've learned that growing brassicas without covering them won't happen. So little lessons are guiding our decisions.
Okra and beans are shooting upwards and liking this soil as their home.
First round of sweet potatoes went in the ground yesterday so now time for lots of water to help their roots spread out.
Our one block of sunflower cover crop is germinated nicely and about ankle high and growing every day.
Weather has been very cooperative and relatively dry for the region. Nice days in the low to mid 80s and cool nights make for happy farmers. And of course the bike trails are pristine.
Now that we're feeling settled we're finding our routine balancing all the things we love.
In the whirlwind that is starting a farm in mid-May (without any tools to our name, mind you), we have come a very, very long way. From signing our lease at the end of April, racing a 100 mile mountain bike race, and boogeying back to WNC to get the ball rolling it's been nonstop action. And if you know us, action generally means we're having a superb time.
Some of our biggest accomplishments include finding a beauty of a used tractor down in South Carolina, building our best ever row marker to ensure we have proper spacing across and down our beds. Working on this stellar website and ordering everything that we need from row fabric to radish seed.
First seeds are in the ground and we await greenhouse trays for getting out transplant production going. (Late is better than never!) Next up is figuring out how to get water from our beautiful creek onto our fertile soil.
Business license is applied for, insurance shopping is underway, and all those things that are done behind the scenes occupy our evenings.
Of course being in this incredibly wonderful area, we have to take some time every now and again to enjoy the trails, mountains, waterfalls that are just outside of our door. Luckily proximity is on our side and it's not too hard to sneak away for a couple of hours to climb thousands of feet on awesome singletrack on our mountain bikes.
Life is good and things are growing.