Walkers Fresh Veggies

  (Paw Paw, Michigan)
Fresh naturally grown veggies produced for you, provided weekly for CSA memebers.
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April 2012 Newsletter

Hi Everyone!

I said I would write a newsletter when we got a rain break – so here goes…….

Today I am replacing the exhaust gasket on the old Ford tractor –working in the garage. I had to stop for a bit to let the oil soak into the threads on the bolts that hold the manifold onto the engine block. So I have a minute to write.

Last week we (my daughter Corine and I ) got all the early green cabbage and two kinds of broccoli planted –this was 75 flats (72 plants each) and filled about 1 ½ acres. We also put in 8 rows of red potatoes and 3 rows of white potatoes. This is a little over half the potatoes we had last year. The broccoli suffered some from the two frosts we had last week –I will check it latter today and see how it is doing now that we have had some rain.

After we got the transplanting done I had time to disc the remaining portion of the field across the road and plant more lettuce and carrots. I also put in some dill and turnips and a second planting of spinach. This rain came just at the perfect time for all these crops –they are seeded so shallow in the soil that they need water right away to germinate.

The lettuce I seeded in flats in the greenhouse is coming up and the Kale is about 3 inches tall already. Everything but a small amount of parsley and thyme has been transplanted into flats and the next job for the greenhouse will be all the vine crops. We will seed those at the end of April or first of May and are planning on filling the back greenhouse with watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini, summer squash, pati pan squash, and a few specialty squashes. We also seed the late fall crops then too. We will seed late broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. (I am thinking it will work better to transplant kale out of the greenhouse than to try and direct seed it in the field).

Next week I plan on working all the fields over with the field cultivator to keep the moisture retained in the ground, and kill any small weeds that may be getting started.

We have a nice group of people that have subscribed for this year’s membership and we are reaching a point where we would like to be for size this year. We have enough New members to replace all those who have let me know from last year that they are moving or for whatever other reason will not be subscribing this year.

There are a few of last years members who have not let me know either way what their plans are for this year, and since we have passed the April 15 date, anyone is welcome to take their place as CSA member.

In addition I have decided that I would like to keep our total membership to around 80 shares. This is a reduction of about 30 members from last year. This size would allow us to do better job packing and provide better service to our members. I am looking at selling any excess produce we may have this year to other CSA Farms that might need it. We usually have quite a few people subscribe in the end of April and into May. If you have not already subscribed and are planning on doing so you need to let me know, we passed the April 15 date, and at this point it is first come first serve. We still have some room left, but should easily be filled by mid-May.

Subscription rates paid by check are lower than if purchased online through the localharvest store – this is due to the localharvest store commission. LocalHarvest charges us a commission for the service they provide, so we are passing on a portion of that fee in the online store rates.. The subscription rates by check are $250 for a Half share, $320 for a Basic share & $400 for the Full size share.

I think we will begin delivery on June 7 this year – there should be at least enough stuff ready to pack some veggies for the first taste of spring, then the following weeks there ought to be enough to fill the boxes fairly well. This start date will give us a 22-week delivery season. This is 4 or 5 weeks more than last year. Your first box may not be way full – but whatever is ready will go to waste if we do not make a distribution at that time.

Corine and I went over to the field and checked on the broccoli & cabbage, and it is doing well. Some of the rows that were planted earliest look a bit more stressed by the frost than the later planted rows, but they all look like they will be fine. The rain came at a very good time for these plants. We are very pleased with how these are doing and glad we got them in before this rain. Packman broccoli takes about 55 days from transplant date to mature – this puts our potential first harvest date at June 10. This would be in time for the second distribution box!

Have a great day!

Your veggigrower,

Mark & Carolyn Walker










Walkers Fresh Veggies April, News

Hello Everyone !

Thursday, April 7, 2011 
There is currently a small break in the action in the greenhouses, so I thought I would take a moment to get this months newsletter started.  I am working alone this year in the greenhouses, Carolyn has taken a temporary job working in a commercial greenhouse to earn some extra money for herself, and learn new things about greenhouse growing.  So far the job is going well for her.  Last year I had hired some help for the transplanting, but this year opted to do it all myself (weather is to cold and wet for field work yet anyway) and I thought I'd save some money.  It goes well with me too, and I find with a few short cuts and tricks learned this year I am able to make it OK without any help.  So far I've seeded and subsequently transplanted the following numbers of plants:
Sweet onions about 12000
Early Tomatoes 5200 enough for 1 acre in the field
Bell Peppers 7000
Hot and specialty peppers 1000
Basil  about 500
Broccoli & Cabbage 3700
Have about 1500 eggplant to transplant and another 1200 tomatoes to transplant -- these are not big enough yet.
Seeded 38 flats of early sweet corn  (10,000 seeds) enough for 1/2 acre
Seeded 2 seed flats of spinach, 1 seed flat of romaine lettuce, 1 seed flat of okra & 1 seed flat of zinnias.

We still have 12 x 20 foot of space left in the back greenhouse -- this is not heated.

This year we are trying sweet corn started in the greenhouse to set out in the field for an early crop -- this is the first time I have every tried this and hope we can have some early sweet corn by July 4 th. 

It has been very challenging keeping the greenhouses warm enough this year. I have never seen it so cold for so long.  I have had to run a 3/4 inch buried gas line from our big LP Tank back 150 feet to the back greenhouse and buy a new LP Gas blue flame heater to keep it warm enough in there.  Even with that I needed to partition off the back 1/3 of the greenhouse in order to have enough heat for the front 2/3 to keep it warm enough.  We have used more than double the amount of LP Gas as last year and we are not through yet. 

Last year we planted potatoes the second week of April and the first planting of sweet corn and green beans went in on
April 23ed. This year we have not even begun plowing the fields yet.  I think if we get the potatoes in April we will be doing well.  The onions will wait until May and the first sweet corn and beans and the early tomatoes will wait for May as well. The second tomatoes and peppers and eggplant will wait until the 15 th or 20th of May to go into the fields.  It appears to be a cold year (or cool year) this year. 

I still have Yukon Gold potatoes to sort and bag, and repairs to make on the plow.  Should have time for these jobs now that the plants are under control (they come first). 

Membership is going well so far -- many thanks to a few very helpful members that have spread the word well -- the very best way to grow is by the recommendation of a past or current member, and friends and neighbors.  I want those of you who have helped with this to know that I really do appreciate your good support, and will not forget the help you have given.  We are currently at 75 paid subscribers with another 5 or so people that have verbally committed that have not as yet sent in their check.  We have "room" for a little over 100 members and will continue to take new members for the month of April. 

Only 77 more days until our first distribution day -- I know that may seem long for those of you patiently waiting for those first fresh veggies -- but it sure seems a short time to me, with nothing in the ground yet. Do not worry though, there are many veggies that take less than 60 days of growing time to be ready. I am planning for the following to be in the first box:
Sugar snap peas
green bunching onions
spinach greens
maybe - new red potatoes

We need to plant red potatoes and sugar snap peas and green onions towards the end of next week for this to happen. The spinach and lettuce are seeded in the greenhouse, so we are OK there.  The broccoli is already 3 inches tall and will be ready to plant in the field by May 1st.

Green Beans will likely have to start in the second distribution week June 30 th  -- I don't see for now how they can make it by June 23 ed this year. 

Please keep up the good work spreading the word about Walker's Fresh Veggies CSA -- we appreciate it very much, and are looking forward to a very good year ( I find that often the cooler years end up being the best -- a very hot year like the last one is not always so good).

Your Veggigrowers,
Mark & Carolyn Walker

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