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Updates at Great Oak Farm

Posted 6/5/2017 2:31pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

If I had to sum up this spring planting season in a single word, it would be RAIN! Since Mother’s Day, we have gotten an incredible 10 inches of rain here at Great Oak Farm, which put a major damper on field work. That’s a whopping 270,000 gallons of water on each acre of our farm! Suffice to say it was a little muddy for a while, but the good news is that there is plenty of moisture in the ground now. Our pond is full to the brim, and the nice weather at the end of last week was just what the farmer ordered! Our farm hand Elie (who is back for her second season this summer) and I managed to get about 2.5 acres of transplants out on Thursday and Friday – everything from broccoli (the third planting already!) and cabbage to melons and field cukes. We also got about a half mile each of green beans (the second planting) and sweet corn seeded, and this warm humid weather is just perfect for germinating seeds and getting new transplants off to a great start. The first planting of field carrots is up, the peas are looking splendid, and the sheep are knee deep in lush grass in the pasture. While we got a little later start on the season than usual, what began looking like a challenging spring season has turned out to be manageable. So far this year, all the veggies in your boxes (except the rhubarb) have been grown in hoop houses – simple greenhouses heated by the sun. Those protected, warmer environments are a key part of making sure early season crops are ready for all of you, especially in rainy cold springs like this one. Even with no heat, when closed up on a cloudy day or at night, the air temp inside the hoop houses is at least 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. The hoop houses here at our farm that were growing spinach all winter are now chocked full of chard, collards, cukes, beets, carrots, scallions, and tomatoes. We’ve put up several hoop houses at the farm and have plans to add another one next year as well, giving us a little more control over our growing seasons when Mother Nature throws us some cold wet conditions. Over the last few years, we’ve also been investing in tools to get our field work done faster, and boy did it pay off this year. Having implements like tractor mounted seeders and our mechanical transplanter really have made a huge difference in being able to take advantage of small windows of opportunity to get a lot done in a short amount of time. It’s just Elie and I working here at the farm, so when conditions are right we need to be as efficient as possible. I’ve said it before: timing is everything! Speaking of timing, with all this recent moisture and warmth, it’s nearly time to start cultivating before the weeds get a good foothold.   Once we get the winter squash transplants out this week, the next big challenge will be cultivating out all those weeds, and I am looking forward to it. Our little cultivating tractors were built in 1947 and 1948 – they have seen a lot of weeds in their time! It makes me smile knowing that they are still reliably doing what they were made to do so many years ago. Have a great week everyone, and thank you for eating locally and seasonally with us! We’re mighty proud to be your farmers.   Yours in community – Chris Duke, Great Oak Farm