Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Monday, March 28, 2011

April Happenings, March Wrap-Up

Well, March is coming to a close and it's been an interesting month. I'll give you the March Wrap-Up, including word about our awesome March Weekend Workday (see the photo!) and farm news further down the list here, but first, mark your calendars and make your reservations NOW for our April 20th event:
Roots Farm is partnering with Sangha Yoga Studio and the Foundry Park Inn & Spa to bring you Conscious Movement, Conscious Food -- an evening of Hatha yoga and delicious local delights. Wednesday, April 20th! Give your body the deluxe treatment. Join Sangha Yoga Studio's founding director Meghan Burke for an ALL LEVELS HATHA YOGA CLASS in a twinkle-lit ballroom . . . stretching, breathing, detoxifying . . . from 6-7:15pm ($10). Followed by a delicious, 3 course vegetarian or vegan meal prepared by executive chef Martin Smetana of the Foundry Park Inn & Spa using produce supplied by your very own Roots Farm at 7:30pm ($15.95 + tax & gratiuity). You can reserve your space for either yoga, the dinner, or both by calling the Foundry Park Inn by April 18th: 706-410-1968. Hope to have you with us!
Indeed. A month earlier than last year, the Athens Farmers Market is opening its gates again this coming Saturday from 8am-noon at Bishop Park on the West side of town. Local produce, breads, eggs, meats, coffee, prepared foods, crafts, live plants, and more. It's the best way to start your weekend (other than joining us on a workday). We should have some early stuff available, like rainbow chard, scallions, and STRAWBERRIES. I'm curious to see what all the farmers have available since it's so much earlier than last year and April can be a challenging time to have much produce available even with a hoop house. It's a good thing we've had such a mild spring. Get there early for the best selection!
We've only got a few more CSA shares available for our Summer season, so sign up today and/or tell your friends to sign up today! The Summer season starts on May 3rd -- only a little over a month away! We'll have our usual market-style pickups on-farm on Tuesdays and for those of you who live in or around 5 POINTS in Athens, GA, we're locating a pickup in your neighborhood this year on Fridays! Yep, you can even take the UGA bus line to get there. The address is: 182 Catawba Ave. Athens, GA 30606. Patti and Jim Lutz will be hosting the pickup, and we're excited to see how this new in-town option works. But for those of you who love coming out, we'll still be here for you at the farm, baskets overflowing . . .
Well our March weekend workday was a raging success! We had a dozen people out on the farm--that's 24 hands a-workin'. We transplanted and transplanted and transplanted. Cucumbers, squash, chard, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and lettuce all went into the ground. Over 700 feet of baby plants were lovingly tucked into the earth. Grow, babies, grow! That work would have taken me and Becky all week! Instead it only took the dozen of us all morning. We kneeled together, happily planting and chatting, meeting new members and working with old ones. And afterwards, we gathered together around the table for some amazing spinach quiche that Becky baked and some awesome carrot cake muffins compliments of Sara. De-licious! I call it an amazing success. The weather was beautiful and so was the work.

So . . . mark your calendars for the APRIL WEEKEND WORKDAY -- APRIL 9th. It's just two weeks away! Again, we'll be out in the sunshine, planting, weeding, trellising, and more. What better way to start your week than with a lovely morning out at Roots? Good work and tasty treats . . . come join us!

It didn't freeze at all this month, did it? I think it's been the warmest March we've had in quite some time and all the plants are just exploding in flower and leaf. That's the really good news. Warm days for working and happy plants out in the field. But jeeze louise, it's been challenging otherwise here on the farm. . .
First of all, we decided to switch from making soil blocks (which are awesome but take a long time to make and take up a lot of space in the greenhouse) to seeding our plants in trays. Sounds like a good idea, right? Lots of other people do it successfully, right? We bought an organic potting soil mix called Jungle Grow Pure Organic to seed our babies in, and we seeded hundreds of them. They germinated beautifully. Then they didn't grow. For 4 weeks they didn't grow. I thought they were just taking a while, but when I looked at my calendar, I realized that they should be ready to transplant and they didn't even have true leaves yet! What!?! I proceeded to panic and begin making phone calls. My farming compatriots tell me that the problem is most likely fertility--as in the mix contains hardly any and certainly not what the bag claims to contain. They say I should fertilize, and fertilize hard. We proceed to pull out the liquid bat guano and soak our trays, which seems to have an almost immediately positive impact. True leaves begin to grow. Yay. But what to do in the meantime? Our CSA is starting 2 weeks EARLIER than ever before this year, and our regular round of plants are 2-3 weeks BEHIND schedule--yikes! So I make some more phone calls. Who can I buy transplants from? Who has chard and kale? I need plants, and I need them NOW. A dozen phone calls and emails and a trip to Atlanta later, we have them. Or at least, most of them. We also decide to do something new and try and grow a braising mix for our early CSA. It's the greens we're behind on, so it's the greens we need to replace. We express order some braising mix from Johnny's and pick up some more seeds from the local feed and seed. We shuffle our hoop house planting scheme and make space for a whole row of braising mix--mustards, collards, tatsoi, mizuna, and more. Who knows, it may be a brilliant solution that we love and that we'll simply choose to use in the future because we like it. Hakurei turnips and Easter Egg radishes came to us through a similar problem-solving adventure, and we love them now and grow them every year. Maybe this will all work out for good . . .

Another thing that's been a challenge this season has been our unwelcome guest in the garage. See, we built a germination chamber in the garage this year to sprout our seedlings in--it's warm and damp and seems to really speed up the sprouting process. Basically, we surrounded some of our shelves with plastic and put a heat lamp in the bottom and the plants above it. The average temperature was 70-80 degrees F. Plants germinated in about 3-4 days. Success! But wait! One day I go in and check and it looks like some cucumbers sprouted and as I go to take them out, I notice one pulled out of its pot. What? Upon further investigation I find chewed stems and a whole round (like 150 plants) of squash seeds have been dug up, one from each pot, and devoured with just the remnants of seeds left scattered in the pots! Nooooooo!!! We've been swindled. By a seed-eating rat. Expensive pepper, tomato, squash, and flower seeds --all gone! Some I'll have to re-order to replace. Some we'll just have to give up on and move on. Damn it all, but this season seems to have it's own plans in mind. As for our rat neighbor, I've got a 5-inch rat-trap with his or her name on it. Think I'll super glue a squash seed to the spring and see what happens . . .


Patrick said...

Ohh how the season unfolds. Wish i could have been there to problem solve and shake my fist at that dammed rat. Miss ya Farmer C.


Hall said...

So exciting over at the roots!!! Lots going on I see, can't wait to get back to athens and see all your pretty farmer faces. Miss you guys!