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Monthly Summaries – Introduction

April 7th, 2017 | Posted by miker in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summaries – Introduction)

Monthly Summaries

North Slope Farm, Certified Organic Production and Training, New Jersey

Records posted below : 2009 – 2014

Scrolling through the posts below, you gain an insight into our operation, through Monthly Summaries of our daily log and specific data collection.  Each Trainee was required to contribute to the Record, which starts January 2009, and continues to November 2014, Six Years!  2016 was the last official year of our Training program, and the final participants were allowed to skip the Monthly Summary that was previously required.  The Trainees posted the summaries at the beginning of each month, but using data from the previous year (hence the monthly summaries are missing 2015 and 2016).  Our Website crashed early on and we lost the Summaries from 2006-2008.  We also lost the trainee Personal Element Focus Summaries 2006-2008.

The posts are chronological, going backwards in time, and are amazingly consistent in the subject matter year to year, month to month.  Trainees used the daily log and relevant data (market records, irrigation logs, etc) to flesh out a description of what happens in a month.  The process not only gave the trainees a sense of what to expect in their coming month, but also built an appreciation for good record keeping, and the amazing amount of activity that occurs on a small farm.

Each month is presented according to the Hours worked in each Element of the Operation and lists items or activities of significance.  The Elements of the Operation were used to focus the Trainees on specific topics and tasks.  Taken as a whole, it is very difficult to comprehend the multiple forces and factors that shape a farm.  By breaking the Operation into Elements, Trainees were able to gain deeper understanding of specific topics, while learning to appreciate the energy also required by multiple other fields of study and action.

Use this record to review what you can expect in the next month… or compare one year to another.. there is tons of Data, and it is augmented by our Season Summaries, which provide comparable Yield, Labor and Financial Data from 2006 – 2016!

Enjoy !  Please Share and use in research and discussion..  and please credit NorthSlopeFarm.com in any reproductions or presentations..

Thank You,

Mike R

 

November 2014

December 4th, 2015 | Posted by Dan DeLago in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on November 2014)

Monthly Summary– November 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by DD on 12/3

General Observations:  With diminishing light levels and cold, snowy weather the end of the season is near at hand. Fall crops and cover crops grow steadily with the late season rains. The final planting of the year (garlic) becomes a priority in the beginning of the month. While crops are still in the ground, markets begin to slow substantially and plans for winter work begin to take shape. Accessing the woodlot to cut cedar trees for fence posts and other firewood becomes a possibility when the ground begins to freeze. November of 2014 was cold with snow in the first week and highs in the 20’s for the final week’s harvest. In contrast to 2012, which brought Sandy and a strong Noreaster, 2014 had no severe storms but a good blanket of snow. November is notoriously unpredictable.

Equipment (0 hrs): Interestingly for this month, no hours were recorded. The only field plantings during November are garlic. Because the large equipment is primarily used for field preparation during the growing season, fields may have been prepped (mowed, ripped, composted and tilled) after the plans for garlic planting had been drawn up on 8/21. Besides this possibility, lack of hour notation is a potential explanation.

Administration (79.5 hrs): Standard payroll, accounting requirements and facilitating tasks to finish the season contribute to these element hours. A more comprehensive understanding of the market totals for the season can be attained during this month and a realistic gauge of the success of the season can be surmised at this time. Discussions with the crew involve their part in the season at hand and the future season to come.

Infrastructure (130 hrs):  The month began with excavator constructing raised beds in a low lying area on the northwestern side of the 579 field. Standard chicken chores and other livestock maintenance contributed to the hours mentioned. Another critical task during this time of steady frozen temperatures is the drainage of main irrigation lines for the winter. With late season rains and a lack of intense sunlight, the soil tends to stay moist through the end of the market season.

IMG_2580

Greenhouse (28.5 hrs): Prepping high tunnels for winter is the eventual course of action when freezing rain and snow starts falling. Removing tomato trellising material, digging drainage ditches and securing all end walls are examples of simple tasks not to be overlooked before winter sets in.

Composting (3 hrs): These element hours result from instruction hours for the trainees. Operating the tractor with implement in tow helps the crew become comfortable with the equipment.

Planting (17 hrs): Garlic planting in Veg B south was the priority on 11/12 with an impending polar vortex in the forecast. Frost heaving in the spring is always a concern for any garlic planting, so reaching a full depth of 5 to 6 inches was stressed to the crew. All garlic planted in 2014 was planted with saved ‘seed’ bulbs from 2013. The variety is German Extra-Hardy. The 17 hours mentioned includes prepping the field and planting 6 – 220’ field rows at a 5’’ spacing with a full crew. See note on planting dates in Marketing section of the summary.

Crop Care (8.5 hrs): Frost protecting the crops for market in months like this November are the main priority. Typically crops are covered after emergence and are only uncovered fully during harvest.

Harvesting (139 hrs): Unfortunately in November, harvesting time is scheduled for first thing in the morning. Cold mornings, wind, rain and snow were the norm for 2014’s late fall harvests. For the final two harvests the crew was forced to wait until midday to start because the crop cannot be harvested when plant tissue is frosty. One note was an arugula harvest was lost due to foul weather because the crop was too dirty after washing.

Handling (33 hrs): The element hours mentioned involved the standard weekly washing. Separating cloves from garlic bulbs saved from the previous year also adds a significant amount of time for November handling hours.

Marketing (138 hrs):  An interesting note for the end of this market year was the lateness of the final planting (10/3). MR noted planting on 9/1 or 9/15, at the least, would have delivered quality product for the final market. With a late planting, diminishing light levels cause crops to reach maturity at a later stage. Low temperatures also reduce metabolic rates and potentially kill crops. While the crop may be more nutritious for the customer when harvested in adolescence, the farmer receives less product for the labor expended.

Special Projects (6.5 hrs): Final work in the high tunnel in preparation for chicken move-in rounds out these element hours for November.

Weather: November of 2014 was similar in temperature to the previous two years but with substantially more snow cover throughout the month.

Week 1: Cool weather in the 40’s and strong winds prevail for the first week of the month.

Week 2: Winter arrives early with lows in the 20’s for every day of the week.

Week 3: An arctic vortex ends the final week of the market season putting low temperatures in the teens and highs in the 20’s.

Week 4: More winter weather brings an end to the market season. For the crew, not having to handle sharp objects with frozen fingers is a welcome change.

Sales:

WWFM– 591$, 1,095$, 1,385$, 1,490$ | Market Total- 4,561$

SMT– 2,469$, 2,228$, 2,180$, 2,910$ | Market Total- 9,787$

Market Monthly Total: 14,348$

 

 

October 2014

December 4th, 2015 | Posted by Dan DeLago in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on October 2014)

Monthly Summary– October 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by DD on 12/2/15

General Observations: In general, October brings a much slower pace of crop growth due to diminishing light levels and a significant drop in daily high temperatures. During this October in particular, the late season rains that never showed up in September came in full effect. The full list of fall crops are maturing in the field, while the last succession of crops for late November markets have been planted by the middle of September. With the cover crop on the soil surface, significant rains settle the seed and promote germination.

Equipment (28 hrs): The final field succession of fall crops was planted in furrows in Veg B north. 6 furrows were planted in the first week of the month. The crew noted that this succession was planted one moon too late to reach maturity for the last two markets of the year. The remaining equipment hours mentioned came as a result of prepping and planting fields into cover crop.

Administration (60.5 hrs): Reviewing important tasks such as maintenance of the irrigation systems becomes important as night temperatures drop well into the freezing range. With an increase in cold rainy days, office work becomes much more enjoyable. The typical tasks of payroll, bill paying and other accounting activities comprise the majority of these hours.

Infrastructure (170.5 hrs): October typically marks a time when significantly less worker hours are spent harvesting. Summer crops and flowers die from frost and crops begin to grow much slower than in the warmer summer months. Tasks which will benefit the farm in the short and long term can be focused on as more time is spent away from the production fields. Cleaning up production fields by removing/storing irrigation lines, submain lines, hoops and remay typically requires a significant amount of time with the whole crew involved.

Greenhouse (58.5 hrs): Preparing greenhouse gothic for early winter vegetables required several work blocks from the crew. The standard procedure for prepping a hothouse for production involves shaping beds, prepping them (broad forking, tilling and raking), seeding and covering them with appropriate materials for season extension (hoops over remay cloth). The remainder of the hours finishing high tunnel construction fill out the rest of these hours.

Composting (23.5 hrs): The final compost order for the year is applied to the fields in the first days of the month. 8 field furrows in total are composted. Completing composting in the greenhouse gothic for early winter production rounds out the composting hours logged.

Planting (81 hrs): As stated above the final field succession of fall crops was planted into 6 furrows in veg B north. Crops transplanted included fennel, kohlrabi, cabbage, beets, kale and chard. The crew logged this planting as likely being one moon/month too late to receive the best product possible from the seeds planted. Despite the fact that the number of days to maturity match the number of days to market, the decreasing sun levels cause the crops to grow at a significantly slower pace during the late fall months. The final plantings in greenhouse gothic (10/23) consisted of mesclun mix and other fall crops (turnips, radishes, kale, chard and brocolli).

Crop Care (125 hrs):  During October maintaining weed-free production blocks is less of a concern as the first hard frosts take care of the majority of the most aggressive weeds. However, cultivating and hand weeding crops under row cover is still a priority especially for the crops destined to be harvested in the last weeks of the season. Mesclun mix is also important to keep generally free of large weeds as it can be quickly overgrown, making harvesting with numb fingers a problem. Aside from cultivating established and recently planted crops, the majority of these element hours consists of either putting on row cover or cleaning/storing row cover.

Harvesting (263.5 hrs): As usual, these element hours are nearly half of September. With the frosts impending, the final harvest of summer crops and flowers keep the crew in a bit of a rush. However, the harvest rush in comparison to the middle of August is a cake walk. With cool, moist weather the rush to get post-harvested product into a cooling tank is less urgent. The remaining big garden beds of carrots are harvested for storage. This often takes a full four hour block with a full crew at hand. An interesting note unique to 2014 was the attempted seed saving of Costata Romanesco squash. This being an heirloom crop, the seeds will come ‘true to seed’ if isolated from other squash varieties (to prevent cross pollination) and preserved effectively.

Just Checking In

Handling (60 hrs): With a drop in temperatures and late season rains being the norm for October, market customers tend to drop dramatically after September ends. For this reason less product need be harvested and washed. Nevertheless, washing requires a significant amount of time for one or two people in the crew per week. This is especially true for washing mesclun mix which requires a good deal of time cleaning and packaging.

Marketing (170 hrs): The entirety of these hours are spent at weekend markets. The market totals for October 2014 were 9,000 dollars less than in October 2013. Some reasons to describe this significant lack of profit are the lack of mushrooms at market (only thirty pounds purchased per week in 2014) and the fact that there were only three market weeks in October of 2014.

Special Projects (55 hrs): The majority of these element hours for 2014 were spent either maintaining the high tunnels constructed in the spring or preparing the next area destined for high tunnel construction. Digging drainage areas and post holes becomes an area for construction lessons for the trainees.

Weather: Rain and killing frosts came in full effect during this month. After a particularly dry summer, irrigation is put as a secondary priority for the first time all season. Protecting crops from frosts becomes the main task for maintaining the viability of market products.

Week 1: The first week brought a deep soaking rain which was desperately needed.

Week 2: Cool day temperatures and night temperatures in the 30’s bring an end to summer crops.

Week 3: The beginning of the week brought the first hard frost with temperatures in the teens.

Week 4: The week ends in cold temperatures and a cutting wind for the last markets of the month.

Sales:

WWFM– 1,359$, 1,160$, 1,323$, 1423.25$ | Market Total- 5,265.25$

SMT– 3,380$, 2,885$, 2,780$, 2,589$ Market Total- 11,634$

Market Monthly Total: 16,899.25

 

September 2014

December 4th, 2015 | Posted by Dan DeLago in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on September 2014)

Monthly Summary- September 2014
Logs reviewed and summary prepared by DD on 12/1/2014
General Observations: During September the usual rush to harvest summer and fall crops for each market keeps the crew busy. However, despite the weekly market rush, a tangible drop in tension arises with the first days of the month. The cover crop plans are drawn in detail and field preparation puts planning into action. Seeing the land transform from stress invoking production blocks to a carpet of grain, destined for a year of rest, puts one’s mind at ease.
Equipment (53.5 hrs): Field preparation for planting cover crop comprises the majority of these hours. After production, debris is cleared from the field and the field is disked, seeded and raked via tractor implements. This procedure was done in two fields (veg a north and veg b north and mid). Two hay fields (Veg C & 579 north) were planted with cover crop for future plans. These fields required mowing, several passes with the disc implement, seeding, raking and rolling.
Administration (38.5 hrs): These element hours are primarily a result of the payroll completion. Monthly summaries for the 2013 calendar year were completed and trips to acquire fresh fruit for market rounded out the remaining hours.
Infrastructure (85.5 hrs): Standard upkeep of farm properties requires a significant number of hours to maintain a useable space, especially at the end of summer when wild plants are reaching full maturity. Training on primary tillage becomes a major priority when the late season rains begin to pop up in the forecast. In this process, tractor usage is described in detail. Implement attachment points and the hydraulic mechanisms used to operate them are described. Tillage implements are described and put into use to demonstrate for trainees.
Greenhouse (24.5hrs): Constructing the end walls of the previously constructed high tunnel frame leads to several lessons in construction for the trainees and a handful of work blocks for those involved.
Composting (16 hrs): Composting via compost spreader and spreading by hand (atv trailer and shovel) are the normal preparation procedures for the field furrows and big garden beds respectively. For tight areas inside of hothouses, wheel barrows are filled and distributed evenly over the pre-formed beds.
Planting (45.5 hrs): This element was reduced by 120 hours from September of 2013. The majority of these hours result from planting in the big garden beds. Only one field succession was planted during this month. Typically, late in the summer, big garden beds are direct seeded while the field furrows are prepped and filled with transplants. In September 2014 only one succession of fall crops was transplanted into furrows. Also, direct seeding is inherently less time consuming than plugging in transplants. 2 big garden beds were prepped and direct seeded on 9/10 with mesclun mix. Also on 9/23, 3 beds of mesclun mix, 2 beds of tatsoi, 1 bed of arugula and 3 beds of roots (turnips & radishes) were direct seeded. An interesting note about planting times; the crew noted the final seeding of carrots being 9/4 in 2013.
Crop Care (153.5 hrs): Being only second in element hours to harvesting, crop care requires a large deal of crew hours. Thankfully, when many hands are on a job the work becomes light. Never the less, keeping crops free of competing weeds becomes a major drain of the crew’s time and effort, especially when hand weeding is involved. The completion of production in field blocks requires a good deal of cleanup especially for crops like tomatoes, which require trellising. Additionally the use of season extending fabrics requires hoops and sandbags for securing the material. With the season heading deeper into fall, covering fall crops becomes the main priority to maintain a diverse display at each market.
Harvesting (475 hrs): Harvesting is always the major priority for the crew when weekly markets are in full swing. The month of September in particular is the time when the greatest diversity of food is available on any small diversified farm. Fruit, summer vegetables and fall vegetables are either maturing to full flavor or are only weeks away from maturity. This results in daily harvesting especially for rapidly maturing summer crops like snap beans, summer squash and tomatoes.

Sept.2014

Handling (86 hrs): Washing Thursday harvests (greens and roots) and mesclun mix on Fridays results in the bulk of these element hours. Efficiency is a must for any grower when harvesting in the heat of summer. To ensure a reputable product is brought to each market, greens must be picked and bunched as expediently as possible to ensure rapid transition to cooling. If this is not done with haste the crops will look unappetizing to say the least.

Marketing (112 hrs):As mentioned previously, the full gamut of farm products are available during the month of September. For the market gardener and any small farm for that matter, being able to effectively market one’s farm products is crucial to generating income. In this way the grower can capitalize on the work involved in growing and maintaining the plants. This is especially true with perennial crops which can vary greatly in yield from year to year. Flowers have also proven to be a very profitable venture. This crop in particular serves many functions. Flowers generate significant income if marketed effectively. They also provide a significant amount of pollen for wild pollinators. This inevitably draws beneficial insects to production blocks. These pollinators influence flower fertilization and can reduce populations of crop damaging insects via parasitism and predation.

Sept2014
Special Projects (11 hrs): Work in the newly constructed high tunnel results in the element hours mentioned.
Weather: Overall, this month was mild but very dry, with no substantial rain (≥ ½’’) the entire month.
Week 1: Conditions remain in the 80’s to 90’s during the day and in the 50’s at night.
Week 2: Conditions are similar to the first week with still no rain in sight.
Week 3: Dry weather prevails and irrigation remains an absolute necessity.
Week 4: Dry mild days begin to give way to cool nights in the 40’s. Heavy dew blankets the ground each morning but no extreme weather to mention.
Sales:
WWFM- 1,584$, 2,019$, 1,653.75$, 1,448$ | Market Total- 6,704$
SMT– 3,900$, 3,948$, 3,304$, 3,605$ | Market Total- 14,757$
Market Monthly Total: 21,461$

Monthly Summary August 2014

November 12th, 2015 | Posted by Dan DeLago in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary August 2014)

Monthly Summary- August 2014

Logs reviewed and prepared by DD

General Observations:  Overall, this month was much more mild than normal with a dry beginning and a mild ending. TH in charge of crew during first week while CH and MR on vacation. Cover cropping placed as a significant priority. MR determines seed order with crew by preparing planting map. Crew begins experimenting with favorable furrows when planting remainder of summer crops and beginning of fall crops. Markets down significantly from previous year (-$6,000) due to less fruit (blue and blackberry) sales. Also a notable and ongoing problem is the mexican bean beetle population increasing throughout summer. Aside from the usual weekly markets the crew spend the height of tomato season sorting tomatoes for processing.

Equipment (15 hrs): These element hours were reduced by 10 from the previous year and 70 hours from 2012. This was a result again of loose record keeping by machine users. For example on 8/12, a day in which 4 favorable furrows were ripped, composted and planted no machinery usage was logged. Furthermore, furrow preparation has proven to be an expedient process with the equipment available and may have had some influence in the reduction in equipment hours mentioned. (8/12) First years were trained on Kabota mower usage. (8/16) MR took moldboard plow to unruly 579 field to plant into hay. (8/22) Favorable furrow preparation in veg b north allowed crew to proceed with planting of fall crops.

Administration (24 hrs): Standard payroll and bills comprised the majority of these element hours. (8/8) The cover crop order was due to be sent in. This prompted MR to explain the growth characteristics of various cover crops and their applicability. Total farm acreage was mapped and labeled with desired cover crop and/or intended usage. (8/20) MR began Kobota mower operation demonstration for first years. (8/26) Crew introduction to primary tillage for cover cropping. The importance of maintaining a mental field layout when using the chisel plow (Ford 4600) was discussed

Infrastructure (45 hrs): Standard mowing of the farm properties and various livestock requirements comprised the majority of these element hours. (8/14) MR used haybine to cut wild crop of ragweed smothering red clover in Central South East North Field in preparation for cash crop planting in 2015. (8/28) The walk in cooler was cleared of summer produce to make room for fall storage crops. Crew estimates close to 100 pounds of summer squash were composted or used for livestock feed (8/29) Cover crop seed order placed on 8/9 was picked up and a stored for later use.

Greenhouse (26 hrs): (8/12 + 8/13) Full crew trim and trellis tomatoes in high tunnel 1 and ralph’s house. (8/16) Some of the last seedlings to be transplanted in the fall are seeded by CH (8/27) Trellising the greenhouse tomatoes in the aforementioned high tunnels is a priority with maximum fruit output occurring.

Composting (23 hrs): Planting of the final summer crop successions and the first of the fall crops results in quick usage of compost orders. (8/10) Furrows are prepped in Veg B north in preparation for fall crop planting, while the western big garden beds are planted with various crops.(8/22) Crew focuses on large planting of western big garden beds in preparation for large rain forecast. (8/26) The last rows of summer squash and green beans are composted for planting.
Ripping Furrows
Planting (46 hrs): Planting the final summer crop successions and the beginning of the fall crops helps the crew remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. (8/5) Two big garden beds are prepped for direct seeding of salad mix. (8/12) Fall crops (ie: mizuna, collards, fennel, kohlrabi) are transplanted in favorable furrows of veg B north. (8/21) MR discusses preparation for garlic planting which will occur later in the year after the first frost. 220 foot field beds are to be planted with cloves spaced 5 inches apart. In total 6 beds need approximately 3200 cloves for a full planting. (8/22) The western big garden beds were prepared for planting. Hakurai turnips, arugula and tatsoi were direct seeded into the northern beds, while 3 beds of carrots, 2 beds of salad and one bed of radishes were direct seeded in the southern beds. (8/26) The final planting of frost tender plants were seeded into favorable furrows (1 row summer squash, 2 rows of beans).

Crop Care (160 hrs): The maintenance of existing summer crops is usually of slightly less importance during august. Fall crops in infantile stages require the most attention to maintain growth in what is typically a hot and dry environment. In this process, old field successions are cleared through mowing and/or tillage and either a cover crop or a cash crop are planted. Our main cash crop; tomatoes, require significant attention during august to ensure the plants are trellised and mulched properly (8/11) An old flower succession was cleared of trellising equipment and mowed off using the billy goat. The Kabota mower was also used to mow off the strawberries and hay in the field adjacent to 579. (8/12) TH rototilled pathways of central southeast north field to knock down grasses encroaching on cash crop. (8/13) High tunnel tomatoes were clipped and trellised by the crew. (8/20) A very dry period prompts irrigation. A rotation of two zones per day provides sufficient water to crops without overwatering. (8/27) Cash crops direct seeded in the big garden beds (ie: lettuce and carrots) are all hand weeded. Hand weeding comprises a significant portion of crop care element hours as full crews are typically involved.

Harvesting (359 hrs): Harvesting hours increased by about 100 hours from last year. Poor yields and efficiency seemed to reduce overall harvest time for 2013. During this peak time of production the main priority is maximizing yield through timely harvest. Both hothouse tomatoes and field tomatoes provide their full flush of fruit and other crops like squash require two pickings per week. Flowers are a valuable commodity for any diversified farm as the crop generates valuable income while attracting beneficial insects to surrounding cash crops. Aside from flowers, greens and salad are harvested on mornings prior to market.

Handling (70 hrs): Hydrocooling/washing of crops requires a significant amount of time throughout a single month. To ensure no leafy greens are wilted in the heat of the summer, greens are harvested and promptly cooled through washing. Egg washing by first years and garlic cleaning after harvest round out the remainder of the hours not accounted for by washing.

Marketing (110 hrs):

WWFM- $1153.25; $1854; $1641.75; $1569; $1760

SMT- $3013; $3455; $3850; $3785; $3670

Market Monthly Total:  WWFM – $7,978    SMT – $17,773

Weather:

Week 1: Week begins with rains saturating the soil, but conditions remain clear and dry for remainder of week.

Week 2: Hot and dry conditions prevail and irrigation needs must be tended to sustain all crops in production.

Week 3: Conditions remain dry but cooler days with highs in the 80’s offer a brief respite from usual august conditions.

Week 4: First real rain in three weeks comes in the beginning of the week and is followed by another two days later. Conditions for the rest of the week dry out but cooler conditions prevail.

Monthly Summary – July 2014

October 28th, 2015 | Posted by Casey in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – July 2014)

General Observations: Construction of our new high tunnel is complete and it is already providing a home for our late season tomatoes.  An entry made by the farm manager; “Tools, drilling, generator use, multi-person tasks all performed excellent”.  Thank You NSF crew 2014 for those many days working till dark and to past crew members who came to help out.  Seed saving was pursued by several NSF crew members and we now have plenty-o-kale seed packed away for future use.  Experienced crew members took on a heavy load as farm mangers back was not cooperating this month.

Administration(51.5hrs.): (7/9) MR working in office to pay bills and conquer any paperwork piling up.  (7/16 & &/29) Bank Deposits (7/15) Staff meeting to discuss priority tasks and receive a crash course in managing our strawberry plants.

Harvesting(388hrs.): Many bounteous bean and carrot harvests.  We harvest tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and flowers Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays to keep up with the high yields at peak season. The bulk of the hardy greens and root crops are harvested on Thursdays with a smaller harvest on Wednesdays for our on-site farmstand sales. Microgreens are cut and packaged for market on a weekly basis. (7/11)Garlic was pulled and set to cure. (7/7 &7/10) Several varieties of herb teas (Spearmint, Mountain Mint and Echinacea) were harvested dried and stored.  A training opportunity arises in the tomato field.  We review and introduce to new crew members the stages of ripeness from breaker to “red ripe” and discuss the special handling for those delicate heirlooms.

Handling(61.5hrs.):  Hydro-cooling greens, spray washing roots and packing produce for market are weekly tasks assigned on a rotating basis to full time crew.  First years have taken on the weekly egg washing and packing.  Flower bunching takes us into the evening Fridays and well into the evening Saturdays.  (7/9 and 7/15) The dried mountain mint, Echinacea and spearmint tea leaves are stripped from the stems and packed into storage bags.

Marketing(132hrs.):  Salad mix, chard and kale sales all down from last year.  ???

Equipment(25.5hrs.): We rented a scissor lift for high tunnel construction.  It’s a really tall tunnel.

Composting(32hrs.): (7/9) 1 Big bed and 2 small beds in the CG.  (7/30) Furrows in VegBN field.

Planting(50.5hrs.): Microgreens are seeded weekly.  We aim to direct seed carrots and salad mix every new moon.  (7/15) Beds ripped with IH140 in new high tunnel.  Single shank down the center.  (7/16) VegBN being prepped for forth succession planting.  VegBS mowed off in preparation for primary tillage. (7/17) Six beds of tomatoes planted in our new high tunnel.  (7/18) BGB’s seeded with salad mix.  Decision made to cut short stale seed bedding and skip 2nd composting to get the job done on schedule. (7/22) Used NSF saved kale seed for trial round of micro greens. (7/30) Kale, chard and beets are planted into VegBN furrows.  Next round of BGB’s are mowed off and rototilled for stale seed bedding.

Crop Care(129.5hrs.): (7/2) Flower field is all staked, strung and weeding and in good shape for now. (7/7) CG pathways and empty beds “billy goated” and weed wacked.  (7/9) Zinnias in FG strung again to support weight of plants and keep aisles clear for harvesters.  (7/10) Cucumbers trellised and mulched. Bonus! Irrigation reaches top of the task list and will remain there until rain is forecast. (7/16) Hoops, sandbags and row covers removed from strawberry beds, d-tape tucked in and beds mowed off.  While we are out there we threw another sting up on the flowers and cleaned up and mowed off any flower beds that are past prime.  Winter squash square mulched heavily with straw.  (7/18) Hand weeding carrots in BGB.  Looks purdy! (7/22) Wired set in new high tunnel and strings hung for clipping tomatoes.  (7/25) scuffle hoed newly germinated salad mix.  Laid d-tube on carrots and worked on tomatoes in Ralph’s house; clipping and stringing.

Greenhouse(66hrs.): (7/5) Tomatoes in Ralph’s house trellised.  (7/15)  Crew seeded next field succession into flats.

Infrastructure(178hrs.):  *Note: High tunnel construction hours were recorded mostly under this category.  Plenty of mowing and irrigation repairs. (7/7) Mowed perimeter of flower field.  (7/8) Mowed and weed wacked fruit cluster.  (7/8) Ford was used to mow VegCMid (7/9) Sprinkler lines repaired.  Needed to decrease spacing between heads for more uniform watering.  Irrigation in VegBMid also received some new parts after 5th slice in submain was discovered.  (7/10) MR cleaned walk in cooler. (7/16) CSE field mowed. (7/18) More sprinkler repairs. (7/27) Weed wacked and cleaned up around barnyard. (7/30) Drip tape and misc. materials cleaned out of VegBS and it was mowed off.

Special Projects(2.5hrs.): *Note: High tunnel construction hours seem to be recorded under the element infrastructure.  Crew are fine tuning the building process as they construct high tunnel #1 to enable maximum efficiency in the construction of the second high tunnel. (7/2) Perlins raised, cables attached to framing.  Pre fab action in ATV trailer; cutting cable, making loops and securing with cable clamps. (7/4) Channel lock attached to end arches. (7/8) Ribbon board bolted on and double channel lock mounted on.  New construction term introduced to crew “countersink”. (7/15) All hands and paws on deck for 6am start to put “the skin” on the new high tunnel.  Plastic secured to channel lock on peaks using the JD bucket as a ladder and from the ground secured to channel lock on ribbon board.  

Weather

Week 1 Heavy rain forecast, humidity building.  High 90’s.  One thunderstorm but hurricane landed south of us which brought cooler, breezes, slight rain and a bit of sunshine.

Week 2 Sunny and dry conditions by the end of the week.

Week 3 Thunderstorms push through and it is humid and calm between storms.  4 inches of rain in a few days.

Week 4 Month ends on a very dry note.  Drought and fires out west.

Market Sales:

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Market Total
WWFM $1,118 $1,225 $1,165 $1,264 $4,772
Summit $2,600 $2,880 $3,389 $2,990 $11,859
There is no extra box here
It is all in your mind:)

Monthly Summary – June 2014

June 18th, 2015 | Posted by Anna B in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – June 2014)

Monthly Summary – June 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by Anna Blank

General Observations: Summer is here! Well, not quite, but it sure feels like it. Temperatures are on the rise and activities on the farm are in full swing. The chickens are on the move, construction on the high tunnel continue, a rainy second week provides a much-needed chance to catch up on some greenhouse and administrative tasks, and a big push for planting at the end of the month keeps things moving right along.

Equipment (45 hrs.): Case 265: 2; Kubota: 11; JD 2240: 14; Ford 4600: 8; IH 140: 7; Walking Mower: 1; Weedwacker: 2. There’s always somethin’ that needs fixin’! Mid month it was discovered that the JD 2240 battery was run down and perhaps may need to be replaced (again). A week later the recoil on the BCS wouldn’t catch; MR disassembled and found a loose screw (center screw that holds together the inner workings of the machine). Time was spent tightening things up and reassembling, but it seems some tension was lost and a rattle remains. Other equipment hours fall mostly into the category of field prep and general mowing / maintenance around the farmhouse yard, market garden, field beds, etc.

Administration (41 hrs.):  The daily, weekly, bi-weekly grind of administrative duties continues (payroll, accounting, et cetera). Federal deposit for May filed early on in the month. Several big bills taken care of towards the end of the month, including insurance, liability and workers comp; approx. $5000 combined. Farmland Assessment paperwork and NOFA Mentor Progress report taken care of. Other administrative hours were spent discussing daily tasks, equipment diagnostics and repairs, introductions to planning & permits, the creation of a strawberry field along 579, and the potential of weekday markets in Woodbridge and here at NSF.

Infrastructure (181.5 hrs.): Moving day for the chickens! They are now in the 579 fields (6/16). Keeping up with general maintenance (mowing, weed whacking) is an ongoing task. More tomato stakes needed, crewmember sent to lumberyard on 6/9. Work on the high tunnel continues (see special projects below).

Greenhouse (57 hrs.): The rainy second week of June provides a great opportunity to catch up on some greenhouse work. Tomatoes in Ralphs house are weeded, mulched & clipped. MR researches the double leader system – first sucker of the lowest fruit cluster becomes the second leader. In Farmhouse Gothic beds are prepped for artichokes, zinnias are staked and strung, edges weeded. End of the month greenhouse activity includes seeding several flats of arugula, basil and microgreens, potting on of tomatoes from 406s into cowpots, and seeding of the 4th vegetable succession.

Composting (16.5 hrs.): Prep begins for the 3rd vegetable succession: 10 field beds composted in Veg C North. Composted via spreader attached to IH140 (6/3). More composting in Veg B North (6/4). Three flowerbeds in 579 fields composted and broad-forked on 6/25.

Planting (69 hrs.): The week of 6/16 brings back sunny weather and drying conditions that allow for much needed catch up on planting that was delayed due to the previous week of rainy & stormy weather. Veg C North veggie succession (3rd) planted on 6/17, followed by 2 beds of field salad in NW BGBs (6/18). On the 25th planting of beans and squash in Veg C North was started but interrupted by rain and soggy conditions. The task was finished later in the week.

Crop Care (197.5 hrs.): The battle with the weeds continues! Lots of scuffle hoeing and hand weeding this month. Field tomatoes staked and mulched on the 10th. Tomato clipping continues in Ralphs House as the plants grow taller. Crew finds an unwanted visitor munching in Veg C North on the 27th. The small groundhog is captured but is quickly released after attempting to munch on his captor!

Harvesting (260.5 hrs.): Weekly harvesting for markets. First flowers are harvested from the hoop house on the 6th. Three trays of delicious strawberries harvested on the 10th. Mid month brings the first harvests of garlic scapes and broccoli. End of the month harvest on the 25th yields one brown crate full of yummy summer squash! MR cut hay in Veg D on 6/7.  Thick vetch growth binding up the rake proves to be an added challenge. The last spring baling of cover crop & Veg D yields about 200 bales. Chances were taken and hay collected was left uncovered (no cover was easily available) in hopes that forecasted thunderstorms would hold off. But the rains came and the bales now usable as mulch or compost material. Lesson: when harvesting it is important to have a plan in mind in terms of preserving and protecting the crop (consider ahead of time what resources and facilities might be available).

Handling (57 hrs.): Weekly handling of greens and salad mix harvested for weekend markets. RM takes on first hardy greens handling on 6/5. TH on lettuce duty on the 6th: 81 lbs. of mixed salad, 6 worker hours. Crew takes note on the 19th that harvesting & handling rates need to increase. As flower harvesting continues, CH gives introduction to AM on handling and bunching practices here at NSF.

Marketing (125.5 hrs.): Weekend markets in West Windsor and Summit off to a great start this month (see market sales below). Incredible market day in Summit on 6/1! Sales compare to those in June 2013, even without mushroom sales. Twenty more lbs. of lettuce sold, egg sales up by 10 dozen. The next week however brings a significant drop in sales at both markets. Perhaps weather related? Lower harvest yields? Summit market sales back up at final June market, but WW sales remain low.
Lift in action
Special Projects (12 hrs.): High tunnel construction continues. In the first week of June the crew tackles adjustments to previously set posts in the NE and NW corners. JD 2240 used to pull posts out and they are reset. Fine gravel used as fill. The last three ribs are put up and two more rows of purlins completed on the 12th. A rented scissor lift is used to mount the purlins. Crew notes that the further away from the ridgeline, the more challenging the process. But by the end of they day a few tips and tricks made the process much easier!

Weather:

Week 1: Feels like summer! The month starts off sunny warm, with temperatures in the 80s. Mid-week rain showers with a total rainfall of 1”.

Week 2: Rainy days with forecasts of thunderstorms.

Week 3: After a rainy week the sun is back and conditions are drying (much needed for planting!).

Week 4: Sunny & breezy, temperatures in the 80s with moderate humidity.

Market Sales:

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Market Total
WWFM $1,280 $1,245 $998 $942 $4,465
SFM $2,655 $2,941 $2,200 $2,788 $10,584

Market Monthly Total: $15,049

YTD Market Total: $30,906

Monthly Summary – May 2014

June 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Anna B in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – May 2014)

Monthly Summary – May 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by Anna Blank

General Observations: Despite a few challenges, including cold temperatures in the 40’s and low 50s, as well as a handful of equipment troubles & infrastructure adjustments, things here at North Slope are chugging along and another great season is beginning to unfold. Farmers markets are up and running, tomatoes and flowers are being planted in the field, and the greens are thriving!

Equipment (59.5 hrs):  Kubota: 12, JD2240: 10, Ford4600: 8.5, IH140: 12, Walking Mower: 6, BCS Rototiller: 2, Weed Wacker: 9. (5/5) Kubota mower readied for action: fluids checked, radiator screen cleaned and blades sharpened. (5/27) Crew ready for busy day pre thunderstorms but setback due to multiple equipment troubles. Flat tire on JDS loader, busted wrench while loosening bolts but repairs were finished. IH140 wouldn’t start, but with determination MR got it to start and worked on ripping furrows for tomato planting.

Administration (35.5 hrs.):  (5/7) MR prepared reference documents to record setbacks from property line issues regarding high tunnels. (5/8) Final official review of Greenhouse introductions including physical descriptions & design of the structures, management processes like heating, circulation, ventilation, watering, checking thermostats, etc. Also discussed supplies needed for seeding, use of the watering wand and hose, germinating heat mats, tags, GH order forms, etc.

Infrastructure (124 hrs):  (5/1) Chickens in the mud from all the rain leading up to this first week of May. Coops moved within fence to nice grass. Lots of mowing and weed whacking to do around the farm as a result of a rainy spring. (5/5) General maintenance including mowing of 579 south field, farm perimeter and diversions, market garden, corner garden and roadside edges. (5/7) JT and MR cleared bushes from access lane along 579. (5/8) Box truck came back from full service – fluid checks & inspection. Test run for walk-in cooler yielded ‘No Shut Off’ & temperature dropped below 25 degrees. Had to use box truck as back up refrigeration. (5/25) Billy goat mower in farmhouse yard, front west of the farmhouse weed wacked. Lots of poison ivy discovered in the southeast corner; will have to be decked out in full armor to defend against ivy attack. (5/28) JT & RM made repairs to irrigation system (gauge and coupler) in flower field as well as repaired the main line in the tomato field.

Greenhouse (165.5 hrs):  (5/8) Full crew on seeding flats for market sales. (5/20) Crew potting on tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Begun seeding 4-pack succession, nearly done at the end of the day. (5/23) JT and AM finished last seeding of tomatoes to 406s (for new high tunnel) and 4 packs for sales. Stringing and clipping tomatoes in Ralph’s house so as to maintain upright growth. (5/25) JT discovers that zinnias in NE corner of greenhouse were nommed on, potentially by rodents.

Composting (58.5 hrs): Compost continually dug up and sifted for potting and seeding. Compost from big compost piled used on several occasions to prepare BGBs, field beds and corner garden beds. (5/7) MR loaded ATV wagon, JT, RM and AM composted 4 BGBs, 1 corner garden bed and 9 flower beds (1 load per bed). (5/20) Composted and broad forked BGB SW (3 beds) as well as BGB on North side of asparagus (2 beds). (5/27) Compost spread in flower field and furrows in preparation of tomato planting.
TomatoPlanting May2014
Planting (233.5 hrs): (5/5) IH140 used to rip beds in 579 South (Flower) field. All 22 beds ready for compost! (5/7) TH seeded next succession of salad mix & the rest of the crew planted parsley in corner garden. (5/9) Lots of planting today. Five rows of flowers in flower field: marigolds, bells, strawberry fields, safflower and zinnias. Veg C also planted with 2 beds of kale, 3 chard and 1 cabbage/fennel. (5/14) More planting in Veg C south: kale, red & yellow beet transplants. Also added 4 more rows of flowers in flower field. (5/16) Big day for tomato planting! TH demonstrated planting of tomatoes in cow pots. From east to west in Ralphs house: black cherry, sungold, striped german at 18” for spacing. (5/20) Next succession of salad planted, as well as 2 more beds of carrots. (5/27) Full crew tomato planting (5 beds) using favorable furrow method in field. Lots of clumping called for 4 passes through each furrow. Clumps cleared out by hand and left on edge of furrow to be chopped by tiller. TH spread fertilizer and rototilled to incorporate fertilizer. (5/30) First years seeded one bed of carrots each, all steps from composting, to raking, seeding with the single row seeder and rolling. TH & MR showed and explained specific techniques.

Crop Care (150.5 hrs): Maintenance and cultivation throughout the month including hand weeding, scuffle hoeing and wheel hoeing in all areas of the farm including BGBs, greenhouses, corner garden and field beds. (5/2) First scuffle hoeing of BGB SE. Some toscano kale replaced due to frost damage. Weeded NW fruit trees in market garden. (5/6) Weeds pulled from perennial flowers and strawberries in the 579 field. Beets, kale, cabbage, broccoli in Veg C scuffle hoed, and garlic cultivated with the wheel hoe. (5/14) Drip tape laid on beds in Veg C. Not a whole lot of rain this month so keeping up with irrigation was a constant.

Harvesting (305.5 hrs): (5/2) MR gives harvesting intro to JT, RM & AM including the importance of a sharp knife, clean crate and personal hygiene. Harvested mizuna, arugula, kale, tat-soi and radishes form Ralph’s house, as well as scallions that overwintered in CSR field. (5/14) First field harvest of happy greens from BGBs! Harvested radishes from kale bed, an example of ‘intercropping’. (5/26) Tomatoes cleared out of hoop house. Harvested 8 small tables of stinging nettle.

Handling (89.5 hrs): (5/1) Major purge and sanitation of Walk-in cooler and wash area. Weekly handling of crops harvested for markets. (5/16) JT on handling salad mix (62#) for weekend market. MR trained JT on proper handling and bagging techniques to minimize damage to fragile leaves. (5/20) Post-harvest handling workshop in Trenton; JT, AM & RM attended. (5/21) Crew discussions in the am regarding the webinar and how it fits into NSF operations: what is done well, what can be improved, etc. MR showed slide show introduction to the basic steps of handling at NSF to promote veggie freshness and safety.

Marketing (136 hrs): (5/2) 1st wholesale seedling order to WEC. (5/3) First West Windsor Farm Market. Greens were smaller than last years, though only seeded 5 days later. Colder temperatures leading up to the first harvest may have played a role in this. (5/23) Beautiful day for Summit market. Beat sales of previous year by nearly $300!) (5/28) Received inquiry from Cherry Grove Farm for Stinging Nettle for their annual cheese).

Special Projects (6.5 hrs):  (5/3) Willow trunks planted near new high tunnel in hopes of establishing a windbreak. (5/5) MR calls Soil Conservation District to inquire about approval requirements for setting up a high tunnel. Two tunnels at 30×96 = 2,880 sq. ft each will fulfill their requirements. (5/19) MR met with soil conservationist to get NRCS perspective on building greenhouses in the central west field. Was told that the 2 pending will be approved and that the total potential will be based on existing waterways. TH harvested 6.5 lbs. of bamboo shoots from patch near seeding shed; approx. one hour of work in the rain. Bamboo shoots sold at market for $4 a pound! (5/22) TH harvests Lambs quarters bunches for sale. (5/6) After string checking the level of the high tunnel ground posts it was discovered that the 3 NW posts need to be excavated and reset.

Weather:

Week 1: Heavy rains leading into the first day of May. First week sunny with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s. Warming and drying by the end of the week.

Week 2: Mix of sunny and overcast days, temperatures in the low 50s. Gusty breeze from the South East toward the end of the week.

Week 3: Starts off sunny with temperatures in the mid-40s. Still quite chilly at night. Rainy end to the week; 2” on Thursday and 1/2’” on Friday.

Week 4: Week starts off hot; 85 degrees on Monday! Tuesday showers with thunderstorms in the forecast. Most of the week remains overcast and mild in the mid-70s. Sunny weather returns on Friday.

Market Sales: Week 1  Week 2   Week 3   Week 4   Week 5   Market Total

WWFM–          $1,158        $1342      $1156      $1381       $1210    $6247

SFM –                                   $2185      $2470     $2285      $2670   $9610

Market Monthly Total: $15,857

YTD Market Total: $15,857

MONTHLY SUMMARY – APRIL 2014

April 1st, 2015 | Posted by Casey in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on MONTHLY SUMMARY – APRIL 2014)

Monthly Summary – April 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by Casey

General Observation: Major materials delivery received involving much planning and preparation to ensure safe, efficient offloading.  All went smoothly. We also prepared for a shipping container to be delivered requiring a bit of site preparation as well.  We have a goal of constructing at least one of the newly purchased high tunnels this year, which involves equipment rental and training the crew to use the machinery. This leaves the farm manager to juggle all these special projects on top of routine season startup tasks.  By months end the greenhouses are completely filled (including pathways) with seedling flats.  Planting has begun and water systems are charged up for irrigation and greenhouse watering.  The crops required extra care during the second half of the month which brought strong, gusty winds and frosts in the evenings.

Equipment (16hrs.):  MR purchased Seabox 20’x 8’x 8’ shipping container (not reflected in cash flow).  Equipment modifications done on big blue trailer and a chain hoist was rigged up for coming delivery.  (4/7) Solebury orchards came to pick up drop spreader (shared equipment). (4/11) Ford front tire taken for repair and reattached. Worked with the following rented equipment for the High tunnel #1 special project: (1)two man post hole digger (2) post hole digger on skid steer.  Crew was instructed in safety and operation of skid steer and each had an opportunity to drill holes and scoop and spread compost. (4/29)Everitts Equipment picked up hay bine to replace the belt.

Administration (69hrs.):  Greenhouse order sheet for market seedlings e-mailed to wholesale customers.(4/7)MR paying bills, ordering cow pots and some misc. tasks in office. (4/20) Daily log getting forgotten in the bustle of projects underway.  So we catch up so that valuable information is not lost and move on.(4/23)Biobags ordered.  Spoke with West Windsor Health Department  authority who requested confirmation that our bottled products and egg packaging meet government standards. (4/29)Payroll.(4/30)Crew took photos of seedlings and GH greens and uploaded to Flicker. Updated crops available now page on website.  MR paid bills, filed NJ 1st quarter report and completed misc. administrative tasks.  He is in the clean desk club now!!(4/30) 2013 May summary tackled.

Infrastructure (189.5hrs.):   Expected delivery of shipping container and new greenhouses requires planning and preparation. Anticipating 7 large pallets:  2:2500#’s  4’ x 2’ x 12’, 2: 1500#’s 4’ x 2’ x 12’, 2: 1500#’s 4’ x 2’ x 10’ and 1: 1000# 4’ x 2’ x 5’ (4/1) A large A-frame was recovered from the edge of Peters Brook to be utilized in the chain hoist for offloading greenhouse delivery.  Site chosen for shipping container two dumps of  2” clean (cobbly lump) spread over area to create a gravel pad.  (4/3) Introduction to drainage using corner garden as example including discussion of water table and drainage options (diversions, swales, terraces, tiles) and sheet flow vs. concentrated.  Practical done on barnyard drainage.  Field bed drainage was jump started by first using the 265 with shanks behind rear wheels to rip the walkways at ends of beds. (4/4) A box truck full of recycling was hauled off.(4/9)Fencing tightened/repaired in market garden and fruit cluster finally gets electric fencing installed.  Drainage channels in Veg C South dug out by hand. (4/10)Chickens moved and fencing reinforced.(4/10)BGB cleanup: last seasons d-tape and remay and blackberry prunings removed.  Sink holes dug out and filled with concrete.  Fenceposts straightened (where needed) and holed filled with gravel and tamped down.(4/11) General cleanup for MR’s birthday. (4/14) At this point in the season daily chores expand to include greenhouse watering and irrigation in addition to the chicken chores.(4/30) Box truck taken on supply run for pallet of potting soil. Farmhouse gang purchased new beds with frames at FDS.

Greenhouse (318.5hrs.):  (4/1) Debris cleared and post holes dug on east end of Farmhouse Gothic as first step in construction of end walls.  While the west end receives touch up storm repairs: rib re-bending and tightening of plastic.  The hardening hoop was cleared, cleaned and packed with tables for overflow seedling flats. (4/2) Hardening hoop renovations:  baseboards reset, plastic patched and resecured to end hoop, woodchips from spring pruning project dumped and leveled to south of hoop house creating additional, well drained seedling overflow area. The crew then built a stone retaining wall to complete the project. (4/3) Veg. Succession #1 moved to newly renovated hoop house and a GH watering protocol is established. (4/4)  Full crew engaged in  seeding.  Wiggle wire tune-up on Farmhouse Gothic.  Seedlings in hardening hoop protected with double layer of remay.  (4/7)  Observation made in GH that sunflower showing signs of stress.  (4/7)  MR demonstrated of setting base beams for end walls onto concrete piers. (4/14) East end wall finished on Farmhouse Gothic. (4/20) Attention on falling temperatures being sure to close up greenhouses tightly at night.(4/22) Potting on tomatoes and herbs.  Seeded next round of 4paks for market sales.(4/24) Second full seeding of tomatoes.(4/25) 2nd flower succession seeded.(4/29-4/30) Potting on of tomatoes leaves greenhouse bursting at the seems.  Tables set up in Farmhouse Gothic for additional overflow of seedlings.  Additional protections on ends of Farmhouse Gothic needed to protect seedlings from draft/cold.  Shifting of seedlings becomes routine chore at this point in the season.

Composting (24hrs.): (4/11) Composted 1 100’ bed in Corner Garden.(4/18) Composting continues in BGB section five beds done with extra compost deposited under nearby pear trees.(4/24) 140 and spreader used to compost all open beds in Veg B Mid and Veg C South.

Planting (166.5hrs.): (4/10) Planting in Corner Garden, First of Season.(4/11) 3 BGB’s of kale and cabbage and 1 BGB direct seeded with salad mix.(4/11) MR conducted spoken review of bed prep., layout and spacing.(4/14) All beds in corner garden w/o existing perennials rototilled to chop back ground ivy.(4/18) Balance of first succession planted into BGB’s South East.(4/21-4/22)First field bed planting in Veg C South: cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard and beets. Bed preparation was done using the IH140.(4/23)Time for the first big new moon seeding of carrots and salad mix is upon us and the beds are thickly covered with chickweed (which we love but it is not our chosen crop).  Bed tops rototilled to super chop chickweed to be easily raked off beds before rolling.(4/24)Big tractor day.  Compost spread, with spreader behind 140, on all open beds in Veg C South and Veg B Mid next to garlic.  Then 265 used for second round of ripping on beds. Beds next to garlic rototilled and direct seeded (4/25) with radishes, spinach and turnips using the four point seeder.

Crop Care (122hrs.):  (4/3) Finished pruning in fruit cluster.(4/8-4/9)Weeding asparagus.(4/11) Irrigation set up on BGB’s and rebar hoops and remay covering set up to protect crop from coming frost.  Let the irrigation begin! A regular rotation is implemented. (4/18) Full crew laid fresh new row cover on today’s planting. (4/22) Remay covering over today’s planting in Veg C South.(4/23)Scuffle hoed salad mix and tuned up remay in BGB’s in preparation for extreme winds this week. Decision was made to remove the remay to eliminate risk of wind tearing it up.  9pm visit to fields, hoping winds die down as forecast so crops can be recovered for the frosty night expected.  These conditions keep us busy for the last week in April.(4/24)Weeding perennials in corner garden and general cleanup.(4/25)Sprinklers set up and brought into the irrigation rotation in BGB’s.(4/29)Hand weeded broccoli, onions and collards in CG.

Harvesting (0hrs.):

Handling (4hrs.): Weekly egg washing, packaging and labeling.

Marketing (7hrs.): Weekly egg delivery to WEC. (4/7) Egg value calculation shows 1 week yields 40 dozen from 85 birds.  Taking into account feed and labor it comes to $6.75/doz to break even.(4/23)Biobag inventory and order made. Local Health authority recommends sani-wipe dispenser to be on hand at WWFM. (4/29) Seedling availability sheet updated for WEC.  This is now a weekly task.

Special Projects (21hrs.): High tunnel #1.  (4/21) Layout and site preparation for the first of two new high tunnels begins.  Crew used established corners to set batter boards to be used to maintain string lines and set post hole marks. First attempt to dig post holes with two man auger only reached 1.5foot depth.  Abandoned and rented bigger machine to allow full three foot excavation.  Job escalated when realizing these 8’long, very heavy ground posts would need to be set into concrete to ensure solid base.(4/28) Post hole auger on skid steer.  Worked until 8pm to set all posts in concrete, level and plumb.
Rented Skid Steer and auger
Weather:

Week 1:  Peters Brook is flowing and the peepers are peeping away in the pond.. Average lows for the     week around 40 degrees, highs between 60 and 70 degrees.  A few overcast rainy days but in general, conditions are mild.
Week 2: Starts off with heavy rain Monday night but conditions remain mild.  Lows 40’s highs reaching 70’s.
Week 3: Heavy rains and freezing nighttime temperatures this week.
Week 4: Temperatures on the rise again.  Looking more like spring with 50 degree mornings and highs in the 70’s. We’re not off the hook though with some extreme wind conditions to confront.  Topped off with “crazy rain” and flooding to end the month.

Monthly Summary – March 2014

March 13th, 2015 | Posted by Dan DeLago in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – March 2014)

Monthly Summary– March 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by DD

General Observations: With New Jersey looking more like the Arctic Circle than the garden state the crew began the month by repairing the collapsed farmhouse gothic through somewhat unconventional methods. After greenhouse repairs were complete the crew shifted its attention to the overcrowded chicken coup. Following these pressing matters, perennials were pruned and greenhouse planting successions were completed despite freezing nights and strong winter winds. With low temperatures well below freezing through the last week of March, thawing greenhouse irrigation was the main priority. Preparing the beds for planting with compost and minerals and moving the chicken coop brought an end to March and the last of the winter weather.

Equipment (16 hrs): (3/17) Leaking coolant required repair of the JD 2240 after being used to repair the snow damaged farmhouse gothic. (3/26) IH 140 used to spread compost of 16 beds on the vegetable C south field at 1.5 yds³/bed. (3/27) Both batteries on JD required replacement after clicking noise and lack of engine turn over observed.

Administration (146.5 hrs): (3/5) Roundtable meeting for crew to discuss personal interests, focuses and plans for upcoming season. (3/6) Completed farm summary of 2013 harvest data with brief comparison to previous year’s summary. (3/13) Seedling sales for market and Whole Earth Center were logged and the March 2013 summary was posted. (3/17) Farm manager joined Matt Conver from Cherry Grove Organic Farm at market meeting in Summit, NJ to discuss the market details, guidelines and liability insurance rates. A pallet of chicken feed was ordered from Lakeview Organics. (3/18) Third year focus, introduction and plan established (3/19) The final seed order from JSS was placed and brief review of seed orders was done. (3/20) Soil fertility introduction for this year’s crew was done with the aid of the previous year’s soil tests. The science of trimming fruit trees was practiced with varying degrees of success. (3/27) April summary completed.

Infrastructure (124 hrs): (3/4) New toilet and shower fittings put in farmhouse for a total cost of $1250. (3/7) Chicken coop moved from chicken yard to Farmhouse Gothic for the time being. (3/12) With the first planting comes lessons of greenhouse operations involving irrigation, heating, ventilation and soil preparation/seeding. (3/13) Thawing of the greenhouse irrigation lines is the major task of the day as the culvert and drain valve are frozen. (3/21) The crew preps the new high tunnel area for construction. A drainage issue in Big Garden Bed south is noticed and furrows are cut to allow drainage. (3/26) Cold and windy temperatures brought inconveniences like freezing of the drain in the greenhouse which required 1.5 hours to drain. (3/26) Electric fences are put up around the chicken flock in the pasture to deter the family of foxes.
Greenhouse Frame Repair
Greenhouse (165.5 hrs): (3/4) Trimming of the greenhouse shade willows begins. (3/5) A major renovation of the Farmhouse Gothic is required after collapse due to heavy snow. JD and the crew were required to lift the hoops and reform the greenhouse structure. (3/7) Ralph’s house beds were formed and staked out. Tomato strings and drip tape were all removed. (3/12) Greenhouse orders were created and the first day of seeding commenced. Onions, leeks and the first succession of vegetables were started. (3/13) Beets, cabbages and zinnias were all started. The farmhouse Gothic walls were all secured to protect the chickens from the heavy winds. (3/14) The entire first seedling succession has been started. (3/15) Heated mats and chimney repairs have allowed the greenhouse to reach proper germination temperature despite freezing temperatures outside. A single heavy watering at 1pm each day supplies ample water while allowing convenient drainage of the pipes so as to prevent freezing overnight. (3/23) Rodents mercilessly killed all the greenhouse sunflowers. Bells of Ireland and dill were planted to replace the sunflowers. (3/30) Post holes were dug and filled on the west end of the Farmhouse Gothic and lumber was inserted into the poured concrete. The remainder of the greenhouse was cleared to make way for the spring rush.

Composting (31 hrs): (3/25) The Big Garden Bed Northeast Vegetable Field South (3 BGB’s and 4 Fieldbeds) had 11 yds³ spread at a concentration of 1.5³ yds/bed. (3/26) The vegetable field south had 1.5 yds³/bed spread over 16 beds. (3/27) Tree trimmings were collected by the crew and brought to the compost pile.

Planting (19.5hrs):  (3/12) First day of seeding with onions, leeks and first vegetable succession begins. (3/13) Planting continues with the beets, cabbages and zinnias all being planted. (3/14) First seeding succession is started for the time being. Extreme cold weather and hard north winds require heat mats and space heaters to ensure germination is successful. (3/20) After soil tests were complete a recommendation of 80#N/ acre or 2#N/1000ft² was decided upon. A change in fertilizer application was decided upon for the season. North Country Organic Natural 6-0-6 No-Phos application was applied ($26.35/50#). (3/25) Seeding for seedling sales and greenhouses, which includes tomatoes, basil and the next round of flowers, has begun.

Crop Care (122 hrs):  (3/4) Shade willows around the greenhouse begin to be trimmed. This task continues throughout the second week of March. (3/14) The introduction to pruning, tree anatomy, tools and shape of tree takes place. (3/18) The field walk with the first years is used to discuss mulching, remay details (ie: light and heat retention) and electric fencing operation. (3/20) With tree pruning nearly complete the focus shifts to the other perennials (blackberries, asparagus).

Harvesting (0 hrs):

Handling (2 hrs): Weekly egg washing, sorting, boxing and labeling.

Marketing (5 hrs): Attendance of the Summit Farmer’s market meeting to discuss details and NSF location at the market.  .

Special Projects (28.5 hrs): (3/5) Older flock separated from younger chickens to reduce infighting. (3/6) 17 chickens in total were slaughtered, cleaned and packed. (3/6 – 3/18) Trimming of the willows is completed.

Weather:

Week 1: A major snow events collapses the greenhouse.

Week 2: With the ground still snow covered the week ends with an extreme wind storm and below freezing temperatures.

Week 3: Warming weather brings 40 degree temperatures during the day but still freezing at night.

Week 4: Freezing temperatures with heavy north winds threaten to remove the walls of the greenhouse and temperatures are consistently freezing during the day.