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Tomato Mountain Newsletter- Week 4 Winter 2018

Posted 3/1/2018 12:54pm by Business Manager.

Spring has arrived. There will be some cold stretches and a snowflake here and there, but the ground is almost thawed out, and the sun is getting much stronger/higher in the sky. In the next 6 weeks we’ll pick up two hours of daylight and better than 20 degrees. The 6-10 day forecast is warm, and nothing in the longer range forecast suggests anything cold, so we’re in for what looks like a nice and moderate start to spring.

Of course hoop house spinach is growing much better. We did begin applying the brakes yesterday, by opening one small vent on each hoop, to keep the quality high and yields a bit more manageable. It’s kind of a hurry up and slow down thing. These variables and decisions can be very subtle and complex at the same time. The heat and sun are great, but too much heat and fast growth aren’t good either, so we need to be careful not to push things too hard. If we do, flavor and quality will go down, and we also run the risk of having the spinach bolt, or go to seed. Any combination of the spinach getting too hot during the day, or too many warm days in general, especially if it the soil gets a bit dry, will encourage it to switch over to the reproductive, flowering mode. At that point, flavor goes downhill and leaves become much thinner.

The last two boxes of winter will have extra spinach in them. It lasts for a few weeks in the refrigerator, so you should have no problem going through it all. Keeping the hoops partially open will allow cold nights to keep the spinach sweet, at least for the rest of this month, so quality and flavor should be great through the end of the winter share.

We’re growing lots more plants for sale this year because it’s fun and these sorts of sales allow for more interaction with customers. We’ll be offering more plants as add ons than we did last year. I’m also thinking of ways to offer classes and instruction in any way I can. It’s just more fun and after 25 years of doing primarily food, I’m looking for something fun and fresh. Plants are why I got into farming in the first place. I’ve found that the bigger the farm gets, the more it’s about rules, business and production, rather than plants and satisfying interactions.

If anyone has particular requests or ideas of plants they’d like to see us sell, let us know. Currently, we’re doing herbs, lettuce planters, peppers, and this year I’ll dabble with tomatoes in containers. From selling plants at farmers’ markets the last few years, I know what people are interested in. Lavender, basil, rosemary, and thyme are the popular, warm living Mediterranean herbs. On the cool loving side, people like mint, parsley, and cilantro. Lettuce planers are my best selling cool loving planter, and this year we’ll do a few larger planters with kale and/or swiss chard.

One thing I’ve never done in containers, but will try this year, is strawberries. There are some nice day neutral, everbearing varieties that do well in containers, and most people love them. Kind of wish I’d thought of that sooner and already started the seeds, but there’s still plenty of time to get them going. It’s on our short list.

-Chris

Photo(s) added: September 17th, 2018

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Photo(s) added: September 10th, 2018

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Photo(s) added: , Another New PhotoSeptember 3rd, 2018

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