Hello Friends and gardeners,
It would appear that we’re finally moving into a period of more spring-like weather… at least for the upcoming week. We’ve been fooled by nature several times this season, so you must forgive my cynicism on the matter. LOL
We are finally finished with the early transplanting. Now we’re seeding up a storm with the later items. The first seeding of cool season veggies is complete, (actually most are germinated and growing) as are the earlier annual and perennial herbs. The peppers and eggplant are done, as are the cool tolerant varieties of tomatoes. (for the more adventurous gardeners out there)
The next few days will be all about seeding annual flowers and tender herbs such as basil, next week will be when we seed the many varieties of tomatoes we grow, followed by a second, smaller seeding of early crops for later gardeners. We sow new lettuce plants every two weeks to accommodate both later gardeners and those who like a continual supply of fresh salad greens. The same with Broccoli. The varieties change to follow the warmer (hopefully) temperatures to come. We have many heat tolerant varieties of cool season crops which permits continuous harvests throughout the growing season.
When to seed which items is more art than science for us. It depends on what the weather is doing and how the seasonal progression in our area appears to be going. This year we’ve delayed certain items due to the fact that the relentless icy grip of winter has continued unabated. (Ugh!) It’ll be a couple extra weeks later this season before most of our local customers will have access to their gardens. The frost is very deep this 2014 spring and there’s no way to rush the thaw in that regard. Usually our weather sense is fairly accurate most seasons, but it’s hard to predict the increasingly unpredictable ways of mother nature. Climate change is a reality which many of our species are still denying. Those of us who rely upon the whims of nature for our livelihood pay very close attention to the seasonal weather patterns and almost all of us agree with leading climate scientists that there is substantial change/unpredictability happening in our environment. The only question for us is what to do… If anything, and how to implement changes in the least hurtful and economically rational ways… If possible…
Change is the only constant in the natural system. It happens with or without our liking of the results. Lets be as smart as we like to say we are and be the change we need if we are to maintain our way of life and our civilization.
We got quite a bit of snow over the past 36 hours or so. Somewhere between 18-20 inches I’d guess. Its going down below zero again tonight… Enough!
http://www.enchantedflorafarm.com to view our website.
We’ve begun transplanting what we can as we can. The last batch of starter plants had some freeze damage in transit, still waiting to see whats not going to make it. All or our seeded plants are transplanted, but there’s a huge number which need to be seeded as well. It’s hard to remain motivated in these current weather conditions. This is literally the worst start to the season I can remember, and that’s saying quite a lot because I have a fantastic memory. My greatest worry is that the weather will remain bad like this for a while then suddenly turn “Summery” and people will want plants which won’t be ready for them to buy. WE haven’t seen these conditions in at least a decade… As far as I’m concerned, I hope we won’t have them again for at least another decade. It’s very bad for business and the bottom line. One can only run a business for so long on sheer will alone, at some point profits become necessary to continue forward.
Today I will be potting up baskets and containers for Mothers Day holiday in mid-May. Saturday, we begin seeding many varieties of veggies and flowers in earnest. Despite te weather, the show must go on.
Keep those cards and letters coming folks, we always appreciate your words of encouragement and curious questions.
So, we find ourselves in the first week of March. Usually by now we’ve started plenty of baby plants… But this is no usual season so far. We are continually being besieged by temperatures that are well below seasonal norms for our area. Thank you Polar Vortex. Every time I believe that we’re out of the woods we get hit again with these very cold temps. Apparently that is what is in store for us again next week as well. We’ve yet to transplant any of the early crops, and haven’t seeded any of the early veggies or herbs. It’s just not possible to maintain the necessary temperatures when it remains below zero outside. Especially not with propane costing us a dollar a gallon, or about 35% higher than last year.
Normally at this time we have hundreds of red-wing blackbirds here at the farm… so far this year… not a one to be found. I did see a magnificent male Bobcat down by the greenhouses this past Sunday evening. He was a big boy, his tracks measured 2″ across and 24″ stride without even running, just walking. Our normal signs of spring are conspicuously absent so far this season… Sadly…
I’m hoping for a fast turnaround in the weather pattern at some point, but nothing the weatherman sees on our horizon thus far. Sigh…
When things do change we’re gonna have to push the plants so that they will be ready for sale when people want them. That usually begins in early April during a normal year. Mothers Day is a critical weekend sales wise, it’s the first good shot of revenue for our season. Hopefully it won’t be rained out like in some past seasons. There are no “Do Overs” for these critical sales periods, you either make it or you don’t.
Thursday we are expecting the bulk of the hanging basket and container starter plants to arrive… 6 cases of them. I’m hoping that they don’t suffer any freeze or frost damage in transit. Even our cuttings suppliers are holding back deliveries on certain items because they too are being affected by the weather. What I wouldn’t give for a good shot of El Nino weather. LOL
Ok, signing off for now, I’m helping a friend move this evening. Must put the babies to bed for the night.
I can see by the comments that most of you only make it to the blog but not the website. http://www.enchantedflorafarm.com
I must say, it’s pretty darned windy out here at the farm today, that and all the snow is melting so we have a wee bit of flooding in the greenhouses at the moment. Fun! Fun! Fun!
Wednesday night the heater went out for some reason and we had some “Frostbite” on a few tender items. I believe they’ll recover in time though. I’m still waiting on repair parts for the main greenhouse. Seems that FedEx can’t find us, yet UPS never has an issue. They’ve been trying to deliver since last Saturday the 15th! they never called or emailed even though that information is all over the delivery paperwork. I’m letting my vendors know that they should ONLY use UPS when shipping to my rural location. Very frustrating.
All the herbs early herbs are up and the Saffron shallots as well. I’ll be seeding another round of Viola’s this Sunday after I transfer the older babies over to the little greenhouse. It’s amazing how fast they’ve grown. We’ll be able to transplant them sooner than I had originally thought. Yay! Did I mention that it’s very very windy? LOL. It went up to 53 degrees here yesterday, not as warm today and we lack the sunshine we had earlier yesterday. Winter hasn’t let go yet, we’ll be into the single digits at night be Sunday. Ugh.
Right now I’m very focused on Springtime. It’s like running a marathon, just focus on the finish line and keep moving ahead at a steady pace.
That’s about it for now folks.
I can see by the comments that most of you only make it to the blog but not the website. http://www.enchantedflorafarm.com
We have a huge number of photos and descriptions of the flowers and veggies we have available for sale beginning in April.
I sowed some herbs the other day, Rosemary, Lavender “Ellagance,” Roman Chamomile, Culinary Sage, Lemon Grass and Saffron Shallots. Tomorrow we will be firing up the first small greenhouse now that temperatures appear to be on an upswing trend for the next week. I expect that we’ll be transplanting Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It’ll be pansy hanging baskets, pansy & viola 6-packs, porch buckets and small whimsical containers of violas. We’ll also be potting up the Mimulus AKA Monkey Flower bowls. They enjoy the same growing conditions as pansy/viola, but with a trumpet type flower and unique color scheme. Next week, it’ll be time to seed the onions, leeks, snapdragon and wave petunias.
We survived that most recent snow event. Here at the farm we only got about a foot, but many others in our area got much more as you head up in elevation and into the higher mountain communities. The good news for us is that it was a snow storm with a little wind, therefore no snow settled on the roofs of the greenhouses. Yay! Having lost a greenhouse in the past to heavy snowfall, we are very Leary of these events.
Our pot & tray order arrived this past Wednesday. The soil order is due in late this week or early next week. We have plenty to start this season so we’re in no panic about the delivery date. It’s very sunny outside today, but hasn’t yet hit the 20 degrees we were promised. The great news is that it’s supposed to be 50 degrees come Friday. T-shirt weather here in Vermont.
Until next time, this is your captain signing off.
As I sit here contemplating my various thoughts, it’s a bright and beautiful early February day. Blazing sunshine, 23 degrees and not a cloud in the sky… Until tomorrow anyway… and we have about 8″ of fresh snow on the ground from the…Ahem… Storm we had earlier in the week. My humble opinion is that the commercial national weather outlets like to hype up a “storm” to get our citizenry in a panic. I’m a NOAA man myself, they just put the information out there with no spin or hype. http://www.noaa.gov. In 6 more days the transplanting of the earliest spring flowers will begin. Yippee! (only 41 days till the vernal equinox) I still have a few maintenence chores to do in/on the two main greenhouses, maybe once I finish this post i’ll get more motivated. One of the most wonderful things about working in the greenhouses at this time of the year is that we get to enjoy a “Preemptive Spring.” Even without any manmade heat, it can get well into the upper 70’s on a calm sunny day. T-Shirt weather! But the second that the sun sets, it can get just as cold as the outside if we don’t provide some form of heat. Our two main expenses are heat and “soil.” We call it soil because we have to pay for it. “Dirt,” is something you get for free out of your yard. Dirt also comes with every disease and critter that wants to consume your plants, and is usually heavier than Heck.
We prefer “soil” for many reasons. Firstly, its specially formulated for all the nutritional and growing requirements of our plants. Second, it’s not sterile like many commercial growing mediums, our soil is “alive” with tiny beneficial microbes and fungi which will bond with our baby plants rootsystems in a symbiotic fashion resulting in a healthier more robust plant. Not that things can’t go wrong, and does, but our plants need NO fertilizer until early May. Third, They’re growing IN their fertilizer, so we don’t have to add any until the plants are nearly ready for sale. Our “soil” is a blend of a plant waste and animal manure base with added “rock/mineral” powders, peat moss, a little lime and a dash of love. It is OMRI certified (organic) and is “black gold.”
Our main fuel is propane, but we use kerosene in the later season temporary use greenhouses starting sometime in April as weather permits. We’ve looked into alternative heat sources, but they are either impracticle for our needs or ungodly expensive to purchase and install. So we’re at the whims of the carbon based fuel market.
Until next time, keep those cards and letters coming folks.
Your captain, Farmer Mike
Farmer Mike here. The wee baby pansies and violas are germinating nicely. Good strong germination for the most part, there are a couple of varieties which are showing weak germination. We might need to contact the seed company we got those from and request replacement seed and try again. Its funny how some seed is strong and some weak, when all things are equal, as in same tray, same temperature, soil, water, light… Perhaps its a case of low fertility in the parent plants, never really sure. It can also vary from season to season. Last years winners may be this seasons losers.
I once stated to a friend that I don’t play the lottery or gamble, but he replied “you gamble each time you plant a seed.” I guess on several levels he was indeed correct.
That’s the challenge of working with living things as opposed to stamping out “widgets.” Just because we have strong germination doesn’t mean that we’ll have lots of plants at the end of it all. Disease, fungal infection, insect predation (the odd bench climbing woodchuck… we kid you not folks.) can all take a toll seemingly overnight. So I have to admit, it is quite a gamble sometimes. The good news is that we are very vigilant when it comes to our babies. Like so many other areas of “expertise” in various industries, we can see from many feet away whether or not a particular plant is under some stress. A subtle change in the color of a leaf, the way the flowers might look, even the angle that a leaf is held on its branch can transmit a lot of information to those of us who commune with living things.
The good news is that in just two weeks, we’ll be transplanting the first of the early season flowers. Then in early March, the floodgates open wide as we plant up many hundreds of hanging baskets, patio containers and thousands of single plants for your gardening delight.
Until next time, stay warm and healthy.
Your captain, Farmer Mike
A little past noon on a sunny 1 degree day. (One degree)
The first tap roots are emerging from the pansy seeds. Yay! Looking forward to warmer springtime temps in the coming weeks. Another three weeks and we’ll be seeding Leek, Onion, Shallot, early snapdragon and basket/container Easy Wave petunias. February 10th the first shipment of starter plugs will ship from our grower in Maine, and we’ll be transplanting those into 10″ pansy & viola hanging baskets. We use a plug grower because otherwise our fuel bill/carbon footprint would be huge from November (when the plants must be started) through February. That is how long it takes to produce the transplants. The other reason is that many basket varieties are done from rooted cuttings from “Mother” plants because they don’t produce similar offspring from seed.
Cuttings insure that you will get exactly the same juveniles as the mother, with the same esthetically pleasing colors, disease resistance and growth habits. Actually, very few hanging basket varieties come from seed, 95% of hanging basket flowers are from cuttings. We use our supplier in Maine because like us, they too grow organically.
Ok, I need to get back to seeding, I don’t want the boss to catch me slacking off. LOL
Well… here we are, mid-january, 43 degrees out today and sunny. Most of the snow is gone, but I’m confident of it’s return… this is Vermont afterall. I was outdoors looking in the lawn for the first signs of “Snow Drops” (galanthus), usually dont see them till last week of February or early March, but I was hoping. Michelle told me she had laundry out on the line… Brave woman. Mine is hanging in the basement as is usual for this season.
Welcome one and all to our brand spankin new website! Hopefully, if we’ve done a good job, there won’t be any bugs to deal with. Unlike in my kitchen… The warmer temps have brought every hibernating insect out of hiding and they’re sunning themselves in the kitchen windows. LOL
If… If all goes well… I’ll be seeding the pansy and viola seeds this weekend. That’s how the season begins, with some tiny little seeds, water and light… Well, in the case of pansies and viola’s… dark. They need darkness to germinate well. Some species need darkness to germinate properly, some need light, some don’t care. I think I like the “don’t care” ones the best. LOL, less fuss.
I built a new germination chamber in the house so that we don’t have to burn as much propane early on in the big greenhouse, then they’ll move into the smaller heated greenhouse and live out their lives there until we move them outside (but under cover) in late march. They should be ready… weather permitting… The first week of April. The season marches along, whether or not we’re ready for it. I believe we are!
… but Welcome!
Hopefully you have some hot cocoa on hand for your cozy “virtual” visit to our greenhouse on this wintery day.
Is your mind ripe for plush dreams of summer? Get a look at what we’ll be digging into this March.
“En-chan-ted Flor-a Farm:
beau-ti-ful and enchanting!
just like our