While Dingman Road is icy and snowy, the basement at 9179 is quite spring like. Our two seed chambers, which Jason built out of wood and plastic, are filled already with flats of seedlings. Time to build a third one. Our grow lights are humming all day long, and the warming mat keeps the temperature cozy.
Under the seed chamber lights, we have our cold-hardy crops started, including broccoli and kale. You’ll find these and other cold-resistant produce in your earliest boxes.
We also have our early tomatoes started. These will be planted in the high tunnel to produce tomatoes a few weeks earlier than usual in northwestern Pennsylvania.
We also have our mild peppers and sweet peppers seeded. Hot peppers will be seeded soon.
The first herb we’ve seeded this year is basil. Our herb offerings will include cilantro, dill, and parsley, and more.
This week, we seeded onions and shallots. Even though we’ve been filling flats for a few weeks now, we’re only a short ways down our list of varieties. All total, we’ll have around 120 varieties. For tomatoes alone, we’ll be planting about a dozen varieties.
*** Wait Mister Postman
Much like The Marvelettes, we were anxiously awaiting a letter in the mail. We were hoping to hear from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
We applied for a grant to help build a new greenhouse, and we knew the letter letting us know their decision was due to arrive any day in February or March. You can imagine our disappointment when the mail carrier apparently knocked on the door for us to sign that’d we’d received the letter, and we missed them! We couldn’t bear to wait another day, so Jason drove to the Post Office before work the next morning. When he tore into the envelope, he found good news inside – we received the grant!
We’re still deciding on the size of the greenhouse, and other features, but we’d like to have it in use for this season. What good news to start the year. We’re very grateful to the NRCS for this opportunity.
*** Think warm thoughts
We hope you’re staying snug as winter has its last hoorah. Warm thoughts really do help at this time of year, so here are a few CSA previews that we hope put you in a summertime state of mind.
~ Pineapple Tomatoes
These heirloom tomatoes are even more delicious than they are eye-catching. Last season, we were impressed by their beauty and taste. As the name suggests, they have a lovely yellow skin, with streaks of pale green and orange. They often weigh up to 1 pound, and in some cases more. Inside, the meat is a tropical looking swirl of pink and orange. The taste is divine. We enjoy them sliced and baked, with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and minced garlic.
~ Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes
These bite-sized tomatoes are another heirloom. (We’re partial to heirloom varieties.) They have a pretty, dusky skin, ranging from a burgundy to the chocolate that gives them their name. They have a satisfying, earthy flavor, and we like them with a dab of salad dressing.
~ Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
These little, cheery-looking tomatoes have been with us from the beginning. We keep planting them because they’re a crowd-pleaser. With their bright flavor and orange-yellow color, Stella calls them “little bites of sunshine.”
We expect to partner with the Duke family again this season, to bolster our blueberry supply. We have bushes on the farm, but our CSA has grown faster than our berry patch. The Duke family’s blueberries are located about three miles from our farm. They use the same environmentally-friendly growing practices that we do.
~ Blacktail Mountain Watermelon
This watermelon is juicy with a wonderful crunch. It’s very sweet, but has a unique flavor that’s very different from a watermelon purchased at the grocery store.
If you were part of our CSA last season, you may still remember our broccoli. Broccoli fresh from the garden is a delicious experience. It’s flavorful and has a fantastic crunch. We listened to our CSA members’ requests for more broccoli in their boxes, and tripled the number of broccoli plants that will go in the ground this spring.
~ Mojito Mint
We enjoy fresh mint in our house almost nightly during the summer and fall. We even bring one of our big mint pots inside, so we can have the occasional cup of mint tea in the winter. We like to steep a few mint leaves in hot water, for tea, or we like to float a few in a glass of ginger ale. We also like to treat ourselves to the occasional mojito, and that’s why this particular variety of mint caught our eye.
This list highlights just a few of the tasty eats we’ll be growing this year.
This season’s boxes will once again feature fresh-cut greens. This lettuce is harvested on Friday for our Saturday boxes. Jason makes us a custom mix of lettuces.
We’ll also plant spinach, Swiss chard, and stir fry greens.
Come late summer, we’ll be digging up potatoes again. And throughout the season, we’ll be pulling up beets, turnips, and radishes.
Other seasonal favorites we expect to offer include cucumbers and summer squash.
*** What we’re excited about
Baseball spring training and the garden planning stage have two things in common: they’re both a clean slate, and they’re exciting.
We each have things we’re excited about this season.
For Jason, it’s planting raspberry canes. This is an investment in the future of our farm, just like our young orchard. Fortunately for our farm, Jason has a vision for the future, and keeps making strides to turn it into a reality.
For Stella, she’s excited to get more comfortable with the walking tractor. She used it a few times last year, and would really like to be more independent with it this season. Stay tuned to learn if the 5 foot tall woman finds a way to wrangle the 11 horsepower engine!
As for Silas, he said he’s excited to play with his trucks in the dirt. We’re excited for that, too, because our hillside garden tuckers out little legs! Hello bedtime!
That’s all for now, friends! Think spring. It’ll be here before you know it!
~ Jason, Stella & Silas