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Monthly Summary – October 2012

October 9th, 2013 | Posted by Kyle in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary – October 2012)

Monthly Summary – October 2012

Posted By: KG Date: 10/08/2012

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General Observations: For the most part October 2012 continued the smooth sailing of September, our cold-weather fall crops yielded well and gave us a nice boost in marketable product that helped soften the effect of the tomatoes tapering off. Looking at the data and writing this summary in October 2013 I can see some interesting comparisons. In 2012 tomato harvest ran from 7/13-10/5 (roughly 80 day harvest period), while our 2013 tomato harvest is running 7/24-present (75 days and counting). As of the time of writing it looks like we could get another week or so of yield.

By October last year most of the planting was finished, so we had the time to accomplish most of our fall tasks including crop care, cover-cropping and other end of season preparation and clean up tasks, while keeping up with regular harvests and markets. As the weather became colder with frequent rain we had opportunities for catching up on administrative duties and working on summarizing the data we collect throughout the season.

The rough patch came at the end of the month, with Hurricane Sandy making landfall and colliding with a Nor’easter over New Jersey. Considering the destruction wrought by the storm across the state and region, the farm came through relatively unscathed. The tally of damage was a broken window in the office, part of the walk-in cooler unit blown off, loosing the plastic on the FHG high-tunnel and damaged plastic on RH that blew off in a wind storm later that year. We also lost power, and subsequently our well water, for more than two weeks. Numerous trees were blown down, but incredibly none falling on any structures or equipment. A large branch from a willow tree that fell on the baby chick pen miraculously did not cause damage or injure any birds. Compared to others around the state, we were lucky. However our growing season was severely crippled following the storm. Already saturated fields were inundated by inches more rain and crops were damaged and lost. The lack of power and clean water meant no washing or refrigerating what we could still harvest and the widespread destruction across the state meant even when we were able to get to our markets (after many detours) we found many fewer customers who were able to attend and/or had electricity to be able to store the perishable vegetables we sell. A big thanks to those who could and did attend even as they themselves were dealing with their own part of the aftermath of the storm. It was a great morale boost and emotional support to see all the regulars, exchange stories of the storm and trade complaints about the aftermath.

Equipment 20hrs: Less time on the machines this month. This is a function of less planting and other field work as well as the saturated reality of much of last October. There was some equipment used on 10/11 as part of some final cover crop seeding. RR and KG received training on working in seed using IH265 with the Williams Tool Bar cultivator’s spring tines and the Ford towing the disc cultivator, then used ATV with roller to compress soil over the seed. On 10/24 the box truck had a minor accident in Hopewell when it collided with a lamp post. The accident was reported promptly and without issue.

Administration 101.5hrs: Time spent on administrative tasks tripled from September, but was roughly the same as October 2011. As the season is winding down and days growing shorter, darker, colder, and wetter the appeal of spending time in the office tabulating data and summarizing the season increases.

10/2- “Payroll, Email, Website updates”

10/4- BY posts October 2011 Summary, discussion on how to organize and date photos

10/9- Staff Meeting at Farmhouse w/ coffee! Agenda for meeting is to engage crew to brainstorm task list and priorities. Notes:

  • -discussion of willows, desire and need to cut back from shading greenhouses
  • -discussion of chickens, need to renovate chicken tractors
  • -need to split firewood for winter, much of wood split did not fit in wood-stove
  • -inventory of supplies and restock: irrigation, marketing, seed, greenhouse, etc.
  • -need to clean out equipment shed
  • -focus on summaries, financial data entry
  • -prep. Garlic for planting
  • -fence fruit cluster

10/16- Data entry: MR on oversight, payroll, accounting/bills; RR on greenhouse summary; KG on financial data entry into Quicken. Also our organic certification inspection took place on this day. Our inspector was kind enough to let 2nd year apprentices KG and RR take part and get some experience of the process. Notes:

  • -Cow Pots added to application as an ‘input’
  • -Manure: “not applied yet, will report as applied”
  • -RR and KG assisted audit of greenhouse and production. Swiss Chard chosen for audit, needed to track production of crop from seedling through to market sales to show it was grown by NSF. Found 220ft bed yields 480 bunches total over a several week harvest period.
  • -KG presented crop rotation map and description of rotation.
  • -Reiteration that a physical barrier must be maintained between organic and non-organic crops in truck and cooler. At minimum, cardboard that is discarded can be used.
  • -Tour of fields and production areas (greenhouses)

10/17- MR interviewing potential candidate for program next year

10/20- MR receives ‘BFF’ Award from NOFA-NJ for “Contribution and Support for NOFA’s Beginning Farmer Program”. BFF stands for Beginning Farmer Friend. Congratulations MR!

Infrastructure 104.5hrs: General clean-up jobs typically fall under the infrastructure element. In October that means a lot of things coming out of the fields to prepare for winter; used drip tape, tomato stakes and trellising string, etc. The ongoing wood splitting also falls under this element.

10/3- Tomato field clean-up, ½ field finished.

10/3 to 10/5- Cleaning out adolescent chicken pen in preparation for them moving in. A concrete block floor was installed. Chix moved in.

10/29 to 10/31- Various hurricane clean-up jobs. Much of our Remay was ruined; a note in the log reads “wet, muddy, ripped, tangled!”

Greenhouse 12hrs: By this time of the year there is not too much left to do in the greenhouses. The few hours logged were mostly clean-up although an entry on 10/2 reports that the FHG tomatoes were “pimped out”, pruned, clipped, and cleaned-up.

As the hurricane approached we opted to leave the plastic on the greenhouses and secure them as best we could. During the hurricane we observed some serious bending and racking of the Farmhouse Gothic greenhouse as the plastic was catching a lot of wind. The call was made to cut the plastic in the hope of preventing the loss of the structure. It made for an exciting time in the middle of the storm! We were able to cut the plastic using an improvised tool (harvest knife taped to a long pole) to cut along the ridge line and secure the two halves. The structure survived and the plastic was replaced the following spring.

Composting 12hrs: Some of RR home-made compost tea was applied to GH tomatoes. Also regular compost applications prior to direct seeding in the BGBs and garlic planting.

Planting 39.5 hrs: There was not much planting going on in October. The BGBs were seeded a final time on 10/13; 2 beds of salad and 1 bed spinach. 4 BGBs where also cover cropped in a rye, pea, vetch mix. On 10/18 we got our garlic planted. MR, TH, BY, RR, KG were crew for the planting. Notes remark on the beautiful weather and the increase in efficiency from the previous year. Four beds with two rows each were planted. Below is our planting sheet which contains some of the calculations we used. 2012 Garlic Planting Calculations

The space we had available was:

4 Beds X 2 Rows X 2640 inches (220ft bed length) / by our spacing of 5 inches.

This means we need 4224 garlic cloves to fill the space, rounded up to 4500 to give us a buffer.

We had 48# of our own garlic saved; on average we get 46 cloves per pound of garlic yielding 2208 cloves. From 15# of our own small garlic, yielding 88 cloves per pound, we got 1320 cloves. Together 3528 cloves of our own seed stock.

We also had 12# purchased seed garlic, at an average 42 cloves per pound yielding 504 cloves.

Final total of available garlic for planting was 4032 cloves, which was 200-500 less than we calculated for, however since the field in which the garlic was planted is prone to flooding on it’s ends it was not necessarily a bad thing to shorten the beds up.

Crop Care 117 hrs: As fall deepens the cold temperatures become more common and frosts more frequent and severe. This can give us a bit of a break with the weeds, as certain varieties will not survive the cold and everything is growing slower, but it means another crop care job moves to the forefront; Remay. Remay is a lightweight fabric row cover we use in conjunction with metal hoops to protect our crops from cold damage. It can be frustrating to handle, especially if there is any wind. This past year we started using wider sections to cover more beds with one length, and it makes the job a lot easier. Instead of using 6 pieces for 6 rows, we can use 1 piece for 6 rows. On 10/11 the log notes “First Serious Frost Warning, Cover Crops!!!”

KG carrying remay 2012

Harvesting 277hrs: Regular Wednesday (for Hopewell), Thursday and Friday (WWCFM and Summit) harvests continued. Notes:

  • 10/5 Final field tomato harvest
  • 10/10 Winter Squash harvested. Very small yield and undersized
  • 10/22 Echinacea and Nettle harvested for tea

Handling 121.5 hrs: Regular Wednesday, Thursday and Friday rinse and sorting continued. In addition, on 10/10 sorting, stripping, and breaking cloves apart of seed garlic was completed.

Marketing 165 hrs: In addition to our regular markets, CH attended the market at Gravity Hill Farm with an offering of specialty dried herb teas.

  • Hopewell– 10/3 – $346, 10/10 – $370, 10/17 – $348, 10/24 – $474        | Market Total- $1,538
  • WWCFM– 10/6 – $1458, 10/13 – $1108, 10/20 – $1322, 10/27 $1327  | Market Total- $5,215
  • Summit– 10/7 – $2644, 10/14 – $2810, 10/21 – $2975, 10/25 – $2215 | Market Total- $10,644
  • Month of October Total- $17,397
  • Year to Date Total- 114,596

Special Projects 9 hrs: Most of the special project hours this month logged by KG for the Micro Green project. Thanks to RR for helping with another late night harvest by flashlight on 10/13.

On 10/15 North Slope hosted a NOFA-NJ incubator interview and social dinner for NOFA Beginning Farmers Tom, Jonathan, and Taylor. The log reads “excellent evening, nice energy and enthusiasm” and I must agree, it was a fun time.

Weather: October was wet, and then Hurricane Sandy hit on the 29th.

Week 1: Humid and Rainy

Week 2: Rain transitioning to cold and dry. “Hard frost warning”

Week 3: Wet, strong winds and cold nights. “No hard freeze yet”

Week 4: “Sweet and mild” then “Forecast Darkening” and “Super Storm Approaching”

 

 

Monthly Summary October 2010

October 5th, 2011 | Posted by Jess in Monthly Summary - (Comments Off on Monthly Summary October 2010)

                              2010_1028AJ

General Observations:  Winter is coming!!  That is what was on everyone’s mind this month.  All three markets that north slope attended were still in full swing and therefore produce needed to be available.  With temperatures dropping crop health was a concern.  Measures were taken to regulate crop temperatures in the field and all of the greenhouses were prepped and planted for winter production.  With winter coming clean up around the farm and creating proper storage spaces were also high on the task list for the crew. 

Equipment 16 hrs: With winter coming the crew focused on necessary repairs and finding appropriate areas to store equipment.  Started setting up “have–a-heart” traps in greenhouses to catch and remove groundhogs that were destroying green house crops.

Administration 54 hrs: There were a lot of administrative completed this moth with winter and the end of the season approaching. 10/1 crew meeting was held to discuss midseason check in, plan for third year interns and setting priorities.  Manager met with each of the third years to further discuss their specific focuses. 10/5 Crew was given overview of what tasks needed to be prioritized for the month; work that needed to be done to prepare for winter production, tasks that still needed to be completed in both the greenhouses and fields, taking down tomato stakes and strings, weeding strawberries and blackberries, covering crops, equipment clean up and storage for coming winter months.  The usual administrative tasks, payroll, accounting and bills were attended to as always.

Infrastructure 55hrs: Weekly chicken chores, moving coops, cleaning coops and adding new bedding. 10/13 mowing 579 diversions and field perimeters.  10/19 Old chicken pasture was mowed. 10/27 Started mowing the BGB not in production.  Seed shed cleaned.

Greenhouse 10.5 hrs: Winter production seedlings were moved into the greenhouse and tables rearraged to accommodate trays.   The green house gothic was seeded on the 6th for winter production.

Composting 0 hrs:  Received a load of fresh compost on 10/1.

Planting 15.5 hrs: 10/6 greenhouse gothic was seeded for winter production 10/21 transplanted rudbeckia in tea garden 10/22 finished planting perennials in the tea garden. 10/25 turnips and radishes were transplanted into the hoop house for winter production.

Crop Care 113 hrs: Weeding as always!  This month all of the crop care was focused on prepping for winter production.  See “special projects” for further details.

Harvesting 293 hrs:  Chard, kale, beets, turnips, salad mix, green beans, arugula, tatsoi, last of the flowers (sunflowers, zinnas, and marigolds), tomato production decreased as the month progressed but still able to consistently harvest from both the field and the greenhouse. 10/6 crew was unable to harvest kale for Hopewell market due to rain damage. 10/15 Low yield of salad due to slower regowth, arugula showing cold damage.

Handling 68.5 hrs:  Regular washing in preparation for the three markets NSF attends.

 Marketing 109.5 hrs:

 Hopewell10/6 – $464, 10/13 – $467, 10/20 – $399.50,  10/27 – $295   Average sales for month = $406.38

West Windsor10/9 – $1,422, 10/16 – $1,022 , 10/23 – $960 , 10/30 – $1068   Average sales for month = $1118

Summit: 10/10 – $2,080, 10/17 -$1900, 10/24 – $1780 , 10/31 – $1940   Average sales for month: $1925

Total October Market Income: $13,797.50

Special Projects 56.5hrs:  This month most of the crew’s efforts went into preparing for winter production. The crews intent for winter production was “to extend the growing season of greens, lettuce, and roots to serve our existing markets; Hopewell Farmers Market, Nomad Pizza, and Zone 7.”  10/5 all of the seedlings for winter production were moved to the green house due to cooler weather. 10/8 Remey was brought out to cover 2 rows of chard, and beets and one row of kale.  The crew determined that a single row of remey measuring 72″ was the easiest to manage. 10/13 Rebar was cut in 12 foot lengths and covered in recycled drip tube to span over BGBs.  Each tunnel was covered with an outer skin of 6 mil plastic (13′ wide x 50′ long). 10/14 5 field tunnels at 40′ were covered and anchored with sand bags. 10/15 Strong winds pulled tunnel edges loose.  Crew decided to shovel divots to set sand bags in to prevent bags from slipping on sloped edges of the beds.  More sandbags were placed on beds to better secure plastic.  The total remay coverage was WP tunnels (40′): 2 tatsoi, 1 arugula, 1 spinach, and 1 new planting of arugula. BGB with plastic: 4 salad mix (2 unharvested beds and 2 regrowth).  Field beds with Remay: 2 chard, 2 beets, and 1 kale.  10/21 The crew observed temperature changes in the low tunnels.  Opened one of the beds all day and recovered at 4pm found that temperatures reached 80°F.  Left one of the beds closed all day temperature reached 100°F.  Conclusion was that the low tunnels must be opened during the day and closed at night. 10/27 Crew observed that there was substantially more growth on the covered crops compared those that were left uncovered.  An inner layer of remay was added under the plastic to the 4 beds of salad mix in anticipation of cooler weather.  The addition of the remay was to help reduce temperature fluctuation. 10/28 The 2010 chickens were given a treat, 4 cups of first sprouted grain. 10/29 remey was placed over turnips and radishes in Veg B south.

Weather:

Week 1 – Storms, cold, rainy and wet

Week 2 – mild temperatures, good growing conditions, late in the week strong winds came through

Week 3 – strong winds with gale warnings, cold, scattered showers throughout the week

Week 4 – warmer than average temperatures (70°F +) at beginning of the week, windy, temperatures dropping towards the end of the week, cold frosty nights

Total rainfall for the month 6.25 inches