Tomato Mountain Newsletter- Week 5 Winter 2018
Spring is in full swing. The ground is almost thawed out and we’re in the middle of a bunch of warm, sunny days. Looks like this beautiful stretch of weather should last through the weekend, maybe a bit longer. All the forecasts in the 6-14 day period suggest cool and wet weather. This is pretty typical for spring, so we’ll take the nice, sunny days when we’re lucky enough to get them, and deal with the wet and gloomy weather as it comes.
Although it’s been warm during the days, the nights have been freezing hard, and that’s keeping the spinach sweet. There is finally lots of it in the box this week, and there will be at at least as much in the box for the last delivery of the winter season in two weeks. We have opened up the hoop vents so that it does freeze and get cold enough to maintain excellent flavor, and also to keep the spinach from growing too fast and starting to “bolt” of go to seed. We can have this top notch spinach for at least another month if we keep the hoops cool enough and growth steady, not too fast and soft.
We know it wasn’t the best winter for spinach. Especially for those of you who were with us last winter this was probably a disappointment. Some of that is our fault, not planting it soon enough, and part of it is the big difference in the winters. February of 2017 was extremely warm, with many record breaking days. That kept the spinach growing so much we couldn’t even harvest and sell it all. This year winter was very cold, especially early on, and the ground froze in the hoops so we just didn’t have the growth until now. We’re going to do the best we can to make it up this week and next.
Otherwise, seed starting for spring is going well, and things are mostly on track. Because money and farm finances have been so thin lately, I’m doing more than I have in years to keep payroll down, and also to stay as much as possible in close touch with what and how we’re operating as a business. When people quit, I only rehire when absolutely necessary, and do as much as I can. Some of you may have noticed me delivering your box. I’ve been driving delivery routes since a driver quit last fall, to see how the Chicago scene is operating, and how deliveries go. My greenhouse/seed starting person quit a couple weeks ago and I’m doing most of that as well, and will for as long as I can manage. I love plants and started farming because of them, so it’s fun and natural for me to reclaim that part of the farm.
I’ve written a grant proposal for the annual $12,000 Frontera Foundation Grant, to build a slick, modern website that will take our CSA, and especially our add ons, to the next level. With so many farmers and CSA’s going down and giving up, it is put up or shut up time for many of us. I’ve been tempted to quit for the first time in 25 years of farming. I’m going to give this perspective a couple years to take shape and evolve into somethings special and unique. Keep your fingers crossed for us getting the grant. Got to go. Enjoy your spinach.