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Plum Granny Farm Weekly Update for January 26, 2018 -- Towering To-Do Lists!

Posted 1/28/2018 7:14pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!
It's pay-back time.  This is the time of year that we always refer to in summer.  "Don't have time to do it now, we'll do it in the winter!"  Well now it's time to pay up -- all of those projects, deferred maintenance and other tasks that must be completed at this time of year come due.  They might not be the most sexy but they are pretty critical to making sure things move smoothly in the main season.

And of course, equipment always breaks...

And roofs must be attached (in 15-20 MPH winds...)

These are on top of the other building and repair projects that we already had on the list.  Whew!  So what does a farmer do in the winter?

One of our big projects this winter is to rebuild our caterpillar tunnel, Wally, and turn it into a more structured and durable hoophouse.  We are doing this by giving it a peaked roof -- called a Gothic style -- which sheds snow better than a rounded roof.  We are also putting in end walls instead of the gathered plastic "beak" that it had originally.  We are also adding roll-up side walls inside of slide-up ones.  By making these modifications, we will be able to have a high tunnel that will meet our needs better and will be less frustrating than working with the original design last year.  Plus it will stand up to the rain and wind and snow much better.

The photo below shows Wally with one of the new top gothic bows with the peak in front of the original rounded bows. 

By getting Wally rebuilt, it is giving us the opportunity to determine exactly what we need for the next 2 tunnels we are building this winter -- another 50' one and a 100' one.  It was actually a good thing that we never got the other tunnels built last year because it means that we don't have to rebuild them!  Do-overs can be more challenging than building something from scratch!  We hope to have Wally finished next week.

We continue to get the fields cleared in preparation for spring planting.  The field that had all of our kale, lettuce, chard, etc. is now totally clear. Thanks to Chris and Jonny for getting up the plastic and drip tape!  A messy but essential task!  We are going to give this field a rest this year and will be planting alfalfa there as a cover crop.  Here's the before and after.

 

The greenhouse has been the hub of a lot of activity as well.  We are in major seeding mode!  It's time to seed all of the onions, leeks and shallots along with beets, greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes.  Our heat mats are almost full already and we are just getting started!

We were off to an early start this year with artichokes and cucumbers in trays by January 14 but unfortunately the mice decided they really wanted to eat these seeds (and they were quite expensive ones too!)  Now we have implemented our "Mouse Taxi" program.  We have some great traps that catch the mice unharmed and then we release them about 2 miles away.  That's far enough that they won't come back.  Seven mice relocated so far!

The good news is that the mouse population seems to be declining (knock on wood!) and our replacement seeds are beginning to emerge.

The mice may also be deterred by the increased presence of the cats in the greenhouse.  Detroit and RingBob really enjoy spending time in here while we are working.   Pretty energetic mousers, eh?  They say are just resting in case a mouse decides to walk by!  ;-)

 

That does it for this edition.  Here's a cheering thought:  we are just 53 days away from Spring!  Keep your eyes open for signs of the coming season!

 

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray

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