Happy New Year from Mark & Carolyn Walker!
Walkers Fresh Veggies Farm News:
We have most of our seeds for 2013 ordered – we are also ordering 100 new flats with 188 cells each to use for starting kale, kohlrabi, collards, pak-choi, salad bowl leaf lettuce and romaine lettuce. We plan on growing much more green crops this coming year. We have lost some acreage that we were renting to grow food for the Food Bank Council of Michigan. Our landlord sold his land and we are no longer able to rent that field. This will not in anyway affect our CSA members, our stand, or the Farmers Markets. We need to expand these areas of our farm to make up for the lost production for the Food Bank.
We have already begun receiving checks in the mail for 2013 shares for the CSA! We are looking forward to a great year this coming season and hope everyone reading this gets involved. We would like to add some new crops to our production list:Winterbor Kale Collards MustardRomaine Lettuce
We are going back to the old fashioned varieties of cabbage this year and will be planting some of each of Early Jersy Wakefield, Golden Acre, Flat Dutch & Danish Ballhead. We also will plant some open pollinated Waltham broccoli this year for and extended season of picking.
Crops we grew some of in 2012, but find high demand for are beets, carrots and green onions. We are going to plant more of these this coming year and try and increase our supply.
Weed control without the use of chemicals is always a problem. We seem to be able to do a fairly good job in between the rows where the cultivator travels, but in the row with the crop plants we have to hand weed or hoe and this is very time consuming and costly. This year we are going to do some crops planting in a checkerboard pattern. This is an old fashioned method that allows you to cultivate in both directions removing the weeds from all around the plants. The catch is it will require hand planting –we will not be able to use our transplanter to plant these crops. This is not a bad trade off though, it is much easier and less costly to hand plant than to hand weed.
Next big job outside is to empty out the greenhouse (remove all the lugs of potting soil used to grow lettuce) and pull up the ground cloth. We need to fill the floor about 2 inches deep with sand. The ground cloth is harboring aphids and we have had problems in peppers and lettuce with aphids the last couple of times we started them in this greenhouse. We hope that we can better control them if they have no cover to hide under. We think the sand fill will act as a deterrent for weed growth and make a good base to set our skids on. There is a new organic spray available that will control aphids, but it costs $300 for one gallon.
I have been considering putting in a well for irrigation at one field to ensure production even in some dry weather. My landlord there was talking about putting the well in himself, but didn’t get it in this past year.
I need to find the cost for pipe and a point, driving fittings etc. I would like to find out just what it would cost if we drove the well ourselves. I also want to run a 1 ½ inch line to the field across the road from us. We did not get that done last year, and it would make that land much more productive if we could manage to water some of it. Rain is still the best way to go –but I fear our climate is in fact changing, or we are experiencing a dry part of a long cycle. Either way, I think we will continue to have dry spells each year and the crops most of you want need water to grow. Another alternative would be to find a parcel of ground to but and put our own well down to irrigate it, this would also make it possible to start growing perennial crops like asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc. We grow very little of these now because we rent most of our land and can loose the right to farm it any time, we also must have the ability to irrigate the fruits. This is something to think about.
Please have a safe and Happy New Year!– Everyone wants dark green lettuce and romaine is tops for green salads – we will start this one in the greenhouse and transplant it into the field this year – we have grown mustard in past years prior to starting our CSA –we plan to add it back into the list this year –one change, we will transplant it instead of seeding it in the field.– we are finding more demand for green leafy crops and this is one we plan to try out for 2013.--this is a taller kale that is very cold hardy and should produce more kale for us. We also plan to continue with the scotch dwarf kale we had last year.