April 19 , 2005
Yet another gorgeous, glorious day!
Short and Sweet.....that's what this message will be. Things are just happening too fast and furiously these days to write a monthly progress report. I'll write shorter notes, more often.
In the woods, the trout lilies have appeared and their flowers are about to open. The wild leeks are just ready for digging, but no sign of fiddleheads just yet.
The garlic has shot up and the four emerald rows shimmer in the sunlight against the straw. We lost only about seven feet of one row to the water that ran through during spring melt and found plenty to replace them with from the old garlic bed.
The herbs are revealing themselves - the thymes, oreganos, French tarragon, parsley, lavender, savory and rue are all growing nicely and are already providing someone with tasty meals - my bunny nemesis has been visiting the parsley and tarragon every evening. Rosie and I scare the bunny away but even the danger from the dog doesn't deter the bunny from such tempting fare for very long.
We have just about finished the huge job of pruning the raspberries and blackberries and I'm delighted to predict that the coming season still looks spectacular. Canes are strong and thick and covered with buds. I should probably go back and thin a bit more rigorously but it's hard to cut out such beautiful canes.
Strawberries overwintered very well too and are greening up in their straw beds nicely. I'm really excited about the vigor I see and hope that the bunny stays out of the berries because I think that he's the only thing that would keep this from being a sensational year. (We will fashion some kind of fencing/netting to protect the fruit if we necessary.)
The Damson Plums and blueberries also appear to be loaded with buds and I think this might just be our biggest harvest year of every type of fruit. (I'm actually kind of overwhelmed with excitement about it!)
Between now and the next rain (tomorrow night, maybe) I need to finish up the pruning and bring the canes to the burn pile by the pond. I'd also like to get some fertilizer on the garlic and maybe the fruit trees and clear out some spaces in the perennial beds so I can move things around. After our bramble cane bonfire, I'll move some yarrow, catnip, columbine, echinacea and other spreading perennials to their new garden beside the pond. Then, I'll have more room for more plants in the original garden.
Oh, and everything's doing just great in the greenhouse. Peppers and tomatoes are all up and stout and strong, and lots of flowers and annual herbs are filling up the place. Over the past few years, I was reluctant to move seedlings from the growroom into the greenhouse until May Day to better keep my eye on them and save fuel etc. This year I moved into the greenhouse almost a month earlier and am so glad I did. First of all, there is no nicer place to be on a bright but cold and windy day in April than inside the greenhouse. I also think the plants do better this way. Although it's always a sunny day in the growroom, plants grow quickly but are softer without stress. They also have a hard time recovering when moved to the greenhouse later. The plants that start off in the greenhouse are slower to grow but they're stouter and more rugged. I reasoned that using the heater in the greenhouse on the nights I needed it wasn't really any more energy intensive than the lights in the growroom.
Rosie's trying to herd me out of here into the woods so off I go....!
We're back with a brief wildlife report. The lower pond is teeming with frogs and insects, and is visited regularly by a pair of mallards. Rosie wants all to know that she chased a turkey up into the trees on our walk, but the real turkey action happens across the road where our neighbor keeps dozens of horses. It seems as though the wild turkeys who roam these hills discovered that meals were easy to come by in the corral. They jump the fence and help themselves to the horses' food - even arguing and displaying their full height and wingspan when the horses object. The animals bicker back and forth keeping me chuckling while I work in the greenhouse.
New Farmers' Market
Heigh ho! It's off to Greenfield I go! I'm really happy about picking up this market in my own market town. While mulling many opportunities that came our way this spring for markets in Boston, the western suburbs and all over New Hampshire, I had a kind of "dawn breaks over Marblehead" moment and said, hey, why not go to Greenfield?!?!? It's just 15 miles away and I can actually do a market and get some work done in the afternoon too. We always consider our farm to be sited on the northern rim of the Pioneer Valley - a very special place of progressive politics and appreciation of art, music and agriculture - Greenfield is the place we go for food during the winter, and Northampton and Amherst are where we go for fun. The market sets up on the Greenfield town common and has lots of charm.